An outside observer might say that former Troy safety Tyler Parker moved to Baton Rouge, La., at exactly the wrong time.
He moved to the Louisiana capital less than two months ago, a period of time in which the city has seen shootings, riots, and most recently, massive flooding. But Parker doesn’t see it that way. Football and a deep faith prepared Parker to be willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Never was that more evident than when the record flooding hit Baton Rouge. Parker and his friend Patrick Spikes went to help rescue Spikes’ 88-year-old grandmother with his kayak. After rescuing her he realized there was an entire neighborhood that needed help. He would spend the next eight hours wading in waist deep water, fighting off snakes, pulling people from their homes and walking them to safety. He ended up getting 11 adults and 3 children away from the flooding.
“I’ve never seen such panic and disaster. I really didn’t know how bad the situation was until I was actually in it,” says Parker. “I realized much of the community was either too old or had young children so they couldn’t escape themselves.”
Parker, who played at Troy from 2011-2014, relied on his football training, both physically and mentally, to get through the toughest day of his life.
“I think football taught me a lot about perseverance and toughness. I walked somewhere between 24-28 miles through water that ranged from knee to shoulder deep over the course of 7 hours, all while pulling and/or carrying people,” says Parker. “Every good football program teaches you to never quit, so that helped for sure.”
Parker moved to Baton Rouge to be a teacher and a football coach at Parkview Baptist School and he should be preparing for the school year. Instead, he and his fellow teacher Spikes went back out to the same neighborhood the next day to help people salvage what they could. He said it took him a few more days to fully get some rest.
“I just knew those people needed help. The stress and reality didn’t hit me till after I left the scene,” says Parker.
As for whether he regrets moving to Baton Rouge at such a difficult time, Parker says he knows he was put there for a reason.
“The Lord has me here and I’m happy to help,” says Parker. “God is sovereign and I know this is where I’m supposed to be.”