DKR's legacy spans generations of Longhorn faithful

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by MORGAN CHESKY / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

kvue.com

Posted on November 7, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 7 at 11:28 PM

AUSTIN -- The news broke early Wednesday morning. Darrell K Royal, a legend, innovator, an icon, was at peace. It's been decades since he coached in the stadium now bearing his name. Still, when student Kyler Smith heard the news, he felt called to act.

"I just thought it was right to pay my respects to such a Texas hero," said Smith. 

So Smith waited an hour to visit Royal's statue but not before visiting a nearby florist. The flowers' card bearing his favorite Royalism, "God gives talent, size, and speed but a guy can control how hard that he tries."

Followed by a short but sweet tribute, "R.I.P. Darrell Royal, 184-60-5."

They are the numbers that put him in the record books and in the hearts of the Longhorn faithful.

"I cried all day long," said Chris Cruz. "I had to come out here and see the statue and see what's going on."

For Cruz, it was a chance to mourn his hero he met just a few years ago back when he delivered cookies for Tiff's Treats. 

"I saw on the box it was to Darrell Royal," Cruz said. "I said, 'All right, all right! I'm going to meet this guy, I'm going to meet coach!"

Cruz said Royal answered the door with a smile and a question.

"He said, 'You're a little too old to be delivering cookies aren't you?' I said, 'Well coach just trying to earn a dollar here!' and he started laughing and I cracked up."

Cruz left, only after accepting a cookie offered by Royal. Just one story among countless others.

Wednesday evening, the coaches legacy shined bright as the UT Tower lights paid tribute. 

"Catching him at the games and just seeing him flash that smile with the hook 'em or something that's probably the memory I'm going to remember him by the most," said UT senior Jenni Vasquez.

"He was the grandpa that everyone loves," said second generation longhorn Joshua Moore. "He's always smiling, always happy. It was great, it's sad to see that he's gone but he will be remembered for a long long time."

Memories perhaps lasting far longer than the statue or stadium that stand in his honor.

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