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A Common Thread

Written By Braeden Russell

Current Series: What Peyton Means To Me

Just about a month ago was the 5-year mark of Peyton’s passing. It really is hard to believe that it’s been that long already since that day. So much has happened since then, but there is still a piece of many of us that is stuck in that time 5 years ago, and I think that’s why it seems like it was just yesterday.

Growing up as an older brother to Peyton was both an honor and full of crazy memories. With the three of Me, Hunter, and Peyton all separated by less than 4 years, we made sure to create chaos wherever we went. It all started on Jumper Lane in Bartlett, TN, where we spent our childhood years. Whether we were running around in the front yard (probably naked) having flour or finger paint fights or we were inside pushing each other off our bunk beds, there was always lots of screaming and laughing. I’m sure everyone was thankful we lived at the end of the street and could have our own little corner of madness.

A big chunk of my early memories with Peyton are when we all played coach pitch together on the Vikings and (eventually) the Pirates. My dad originally started coaching the coach pitch team I played on (that became the Vikings) in an AAU league when I was around 6 or 7 years old, and then eventually Hunter joined once he was old enough as we happened to be in the same age range for the team. Peyton would love to watch us play and would wanted to get out there on the field with us so badly, but when he was old enough to play, he wasn’t in the same age range as Hunter and I, so what did we do? Well, we did what any normal family would do, and we started a whole new team, the Pirates, that my dad and stepdad (Peyton’s dad) coached together. Hunter and I would also help “coach” as best as we could, but we really just liked to use it as an opportunity to boss Peyton and his friends around.

Once we moved out to Cordova, Oakley had just been born and was getting all the attention (rightfully so) and we were just beginning to enter our pre-teen and teenage years and had just landed in a brand-new neighborhood with new families with kids our ages moving in seemingly every week. It was a childhood paradise and it’s something I will always look back fondly on. The relationships and friendships that we built while we lived at 1389 Hidden Ridge Lane are the type that change your life forever. I know many of the other blog posts have already shared a lot of these moments, as they are truly too numerous to count. From heated video game matches, to a dozen kids tearing up all of our families’ backyards playing football, to our “bike gangs” that would ride around the freshly paved streets in between all of the empty lots of what would become the Hamilton Farms subdivision, we were all always together and always bringing out the best in each other.

I bring these memories up to tie a common thread that among all these activities, Peyton would always be the one pushing the hardest to make sure his team won or taking over and leading the way. He always gave it his all whether it was a 1-on-1 basketball game in the driveway or we were racing back to the house after mom called us in for dinner. Peyton always wanted to make everyone around him better, including his two older brothers, and I think he was always very successful in that. That is what I miss the most about him, and I’ve mentioned it in other posts I’ve made over the years, but the infectious energy and just overall outlook he would bring to a room or place was something special.

What Peyton means to me is a brother would leave a lasting impact on just about everyone he met, and that’s something I try to emulate in my own life to honor him. Every time we can have an interaction with a person, whether it be a friend or a stranger, and leave them coming away with a positive message or feeling, we continue to carry on Peyton’s legacy. Peyton touched a lot of lives and I am beyond blessed to have been able to call him a brother.

- Braeden


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