MORGANZA, La. — Dean Vosburg knew the end was near. So, after living behind enemy lines in Arkansas for 20 years, the diehard LSU fan returned to his tiny hometown nestled on a bend in the Mississippi River.
Doctors had diagnosed him with bone cancer, giving him 6 months to live. It was time to come home and spend his remaining days with those closest to him.
For those friends and family, it was a difficult farewell. But before the final goodbye, there was one moment of shared joy thanks to an unexpected trio of visitors: LSU sophomore linebackers Patrick Queen, Jacob Phillips and Tyler Taylor.
Granting a final wish
BJ LaCour had been close with Vosburg since childhood. He felt obligated to do something special for his dying friend. Knowing Vosburg as long as he did, he knew exactly what was in order — meeting an LSU athlete.
“He watched every game. He was a true LSU fan,” LaCour said. “Not just football — baseball, too.”
There was just one hitch to LaCour’s plan — there isn’t an established procedure for procuring athletes for such a situation. They are, after all, college students with busy schedules. Even if LaCour was able to make a connection, there was little guarantee it would result in more than a phone conversation.
On top of that, the Vosburgs lived nearly an hour from Baton Rouge — and not in the direction of a major population center such as New Orleans or Lafayette. There’s no passing through Morganza unless you intend to go there.
That’s where LaCour got lucky. Through a mutual connection, he was able to get in touch with Patrick Queen’s father, Dwayne. The Queens live only 15 minutes or so from the Vosburgs, so a visit would coincide nicely with a trip home for Patrick.
LaCour set up everything and figured Queen might stop by for a few minutes to say hello. That alone would have exceeded everyone’s expectations. Instead, they got much more than they bargained for.
‘Like something you’d see in a movie’
Queen did not arrive empty-handed. He was joined by two classmates who will be factors in the future of LSU’s defense: Phillips and Taylor.
“Dean was very, very shocked,” said Vosburg’s sister, Dana LeBlanc. “He was so excited. It was his best day ever. Those guys were just perfect.”
It wasn’t just a quick meet-and-greet. The linebackers sat down and spent more than three hours with the family just chatting and eating, LeBlanc said.
Queen even literally took the shirt off his back. He showed up wearing a gold LSU T-shirt, which he signed along with Phillips and Taylor before presenting it to Vosburg.
While it obviously was a special moment for the Vosburg family, it also had an impact on the players.
“It was definitely a special moment,” Phillips said. “He lived his whole life not expecting that to happen. It makes you think about the things you have in life, and makes you want to love the people around you more.
“To have the opportunity and platform to show love to someone that’s terminally ill, it was just a blessing. It’s something I’m thankful for.”
For Phillips, it was particularly eye-opening to see how much the Tigers matter to their fans.
“[You see] how many people really live and die by LSU, bleed purple and gold,” he said. “It’s crazy to see the fan base like that.”
Vosburg died two weeks after meeting Queen, Taylor and Phillips. Nearly three months later, it’s still difficult for his family to talk about life without him. But they are extremely grateful for one of the last moments of joy they experienced together.
“I cried for days, because it really touched them to see the look on my brother’s face when they showed up and his reaction — how much they meant and made his day,” LeBlanc said. “It was like something you see in a movie, honestly.”