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July 2, 2014

Saying goodbye


MARIETTA, Ga. | Hundreds of family, friends and fans -- dressed in orange and blue -- joined together and celebrated the life of Philip Lutzenkirchen at Lassiter High School on Wednesday night.

Several former and current Auburn coaches and players attended the candlelight memorial to pay tribute including head coach Gus Malzahn, who was on vacation in Hawaii and left immediately when he heard the news.

"He didn't just make me a better coach," Malzahn said. "But a better person."

Lutzenkirchen, a former Auburn tight end known for his unique touchdown dance and his off-field generosity, passed away in a single-car accident early Sunday morning near LaGrange, Ga. The tragic news left many in the Auburn community heartbroken, but the ceremony allowed for smiles and laughter to temper grief.

"Philip said 'I don't want to be remembered for what I did on the field, but for what I do off the field," Auburn chaplain Chette Williams said. "There are not enough books in that library to write about all the good things Philip did off the field."

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs also attended the memorial and spoke of the impact Lutzenkirchen had to everyone around him.

"Philip Lutzenkirchen is a bright light in this dark world," Jacobs said. "He lived everyday like it was his last."

The most moving testimony of the night came from Philip's father, Mike Lutzenkirchen, who said he will remember his son as his best friend -- always.

"There is a new tight end in heaven," he said. "And he catches everything."

A second memorial is scheduled to be held at Auburn during the upcoming weeks. Details are pending.

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