Ryan Hilinski will be traveling several thousand miles with his family when he joins South Carolina’s football team after committing on Wednesday.
But he traveled nearly 2,500 miles the other way to make his decision.
In an interview with SportsTalk, he said he got a feeling he’d pick the Gamecocks in a hotel room in Hawaii. He and his family flew there after South Carolina’s spring game to spread the ashes of his late brother Tyler.
“I spoke to our older brother Kelly,” Ryan Hilinski said. “He was in the opposite room. I said, ‘Kelly, I think South Carolina is the place.’ He said, ‘OK.’ The next day, we were spreading Tyler’s ashes at a lighthouse out here in Hawaii. Then (Kelly) is like, ‘Wait til we talk to Ty about it.’”
Tyler Hilinski played quarterback at Washington State. He committed suicide Jan. 16 at age 21. His death was followed by an outpouring of support and is still something that program is feeling the aftereffects of.
According to an LA Times story from his funeral, Tyler Hilinski “drove his teammates on Washington State's football team to counseling sessions and spoke to his high school-aged younger brother over the phone every day.”
At times in his recruitment, Ryan Hilinski has talked about his late brother. The family started a foundation to raise awareness of mental health issues for student-athletes. Their older brother, Kelly, started his college career as a quarterback at Columbia in New York before going to junior college and, eventually, Weber State.
So, as the family took another step in the grieving process, Ryan Hilinski posed the question to his brother.
“I asked Tyler, ‘Hey Ty, do you think South Carolina’s the place?’” Ryan Hilinski said. “I got a yes from him, and ever since then, I think it’s the right decision.”