Team Luke: In Memory of Luke Siegel

This painting of Tim Siegel and Luke is called “My Boy” and is painted by Jeffrey Sparr. It is Tim’s favorite image of he and Luke together.

Tuesday nights at the University of Arkansas I play tennis with the greatest group of players imaginable: talented juniors, male and female, former Razorback players, a bunch of other 4.5 players from the local community. One night former Razorback coach Robert Cox invited Tim Siegel and Bobby Banks. Both had played on tour and for the University of Arkansas. Bobby Banks had coached Monica Seles. Tim Siegel had just retired as the head coach at Texas Tech. He was there to talk about what no one ever wants to talk about: his son Luke’s recent traumatic brain injury.  

After we hit and played doubles for an hour, we headed upstairs to hear Tim speak. While Tim struggled to tell us his story—it was still so raw emotionally—I kept looking down at the ground, then up again into other people’s eyes. We were all either crying or stunned well beyond tears as Tim talked about the father and son stuff he did with Luke: playing catch, watching Saints games, reading his son to sleep. 

In response to this tragedy, Tim Siegel founded Team Luke: Hope for Minds, an organization dedicated to helping families whose children have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Every year Team Luke has an annual fundraiser in Northwest Arkansas. I attended two recent annual fundraisers, one with Andre Agassi and one with Andy Roddick as the featured guests. I remember Coach Cox taking me aside and explaining what each person on every court had done in the tennis world, how so many in the tennis community were there to help Team Luke. This year’s event features Brad Gilbert and the Jensen Brothers on October 2 in Fort Smith. Here’s the link with more information if you wish to attend or support this event: Team Luke: Brad Gilbert and the Jensen Brothers. I hope to see many of you there.

While I was writing this, the sad news came that Luke had died. There’s not much to say except the loss is great, the work continues.

Our prayers and thoughts are with the Siegel family.

About Team Luke: Check out Team Luke’s website for more information about all their great work, activities, and many suporters.  

About the Artist: More work by Jeffrey Sparr and an artist bio is available here: Cliff Richey and the Belly of the Whale, Art by Jeffrey Sparr.

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