A remarkable clip featuring a man whom Oregon Ducks fans may recognize. It’s Keanon Lowe, who played for the Oregon team that made it to the national championship game in 2014. (Oregon lost but Lowe caught a TD pass for the first score of the game.) After graduating, he joined the staff of the Philadelphia Eagles and later the San Francisco 49ers thanks to his relationship with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who had moved on to the NFL after 2012. Kelly was fired by the Niners in 2016 but Lowe was set to remain with the team — until he got a phone call informing him that his best friend from high school had died of an overdose. Lowe went home, for good.
Taylor’s death forced Lowe to reassess his own life. The NFL suddenly didn’t have the same appeal. Taylor had always looked out for others. Lowe decided he would rededicate himself to the same mission. He moved home and helped coach at Jesuit High during Trey’s senior season…
“I feel like I’m doing my best friend justice,” he said, “by giving away all my energy to all these kids and people that need it.”
He phrased it this way years later in an interview with the Oregonian: “I said, ‘I’m coming back. I’m going to lead. How can I lead the community if I’m not there?’”
Eventually he was hired as head football coach at Parkrose High School in Portland, Oregon. On May 17 of this year, a student named Angel Granados-Diaz walked into Parkrose in a trenchcoat concealing a shotgun and entered a classroom. Reportedly Granados-Diaz never actually pointed the gun at anyone else. His plan, based on statements he had made to others beforehand, was to commit suicide in front of the class. But one never knows what a desperate man might do with a weapon in hand when he has homicide on his mind.
Apparently by pure chance, Lowe was in the classroom looking for a different student when Granados-Diaz walked in. Some reports after the incident claimed that Lowe tackled Granados-Diaz; possibly he simply talked Granados-Diaz into handing over the gun. There were no cameras in the classroom — but there was one in the hallway that captured this extraordinary scene, released to the media for the first time yesterday. Somehow it was Lowe, not Granados-Diaz, who emerged from the classroom with that shotgun.
Breaking News: video of Coach Keanon Lowe disarming Parkrose High School gunman Angel Granados-Diaz. More to come. pic.twitter.com/d7wK9ES6zi
— Dan Tilkin (@DanTilkinKOIN6) October 19, 2019
“Everything lined up for me to be in that room on that day and make that play,” Lowe told ESPN in August. “It was like, ‘All right, Keanon, you say you want to change lives. You say you want to do all this. You say you want to be here for the kids. Well, prove it, right there, in that instant.'” He proved it. And that’s why, in all probability, you never knew that there was almost a school shooting at Parkrose High in Oregon in May until you saw this clip. Lowe was there.
Granados-Diaz was sentenced to 36 months probation last week, which will require mental-health and substance-abuse treatment. He’s alive and hopefully he’ll eventually be well. Asked what Granados-Diaz said to him while the two were embracing, Lowe told the Oregonian, “He didn’t really say anything. I just held him and told him that I was there to save him.”