REMEMBERING TJ: Lookout Valley baseball dedicates season to former player

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LOOKOUT VALLEY, Tenn. (WDEF) — Merriam Webster defines tradition as the handing down of customs by example from one generation to another.

For the Lookout Valley baseball team, and community, tradition means so much more.

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“Couldn’t understand why my baby was gone, you know?” Sherri Gravitt said.

On October 6, Troy Gravitt, Jr. died after crashing his motorcycle on Interstate 24 in Dade County.

“I was devastated,” Lookout Valley senior Zane Howard said. “I’ve known TJ for a long time, and it didn’t settle well with me.”

In high school, TJ played second base for the Lookout Valley Yellow Jackets — helping the team make it to the 2006 state championship.

But he’s remembered even more for his smile and positive attitude.

“He was just well-known by everyone. You could not be from here and hear his name,” Lookout Valley senior Rylen Chandler remembers.

“He taught me how to be funny, actually,” Howard said. “He could make anybody smile. If you were having a bad day, that’s who you went to to give you a good laugh.”

“If he walked, he was sprinting to first. If he routine ground ball, he’s sprinting to first. He led by example,” Coach Casey Marr said. Marr played on the 2006 team with TJ.

“TJ was the guy, he’d pick you up, slap you on the butt and smile at you and say, ‘Hey, it’s alright man. It’s just baseball.'” Lookout Valley Head Coach Lance Rorex said.

To honor him, the 2019 Yellow Jackets have “TJ” embroidered on the back of their caps.

“Oh, it’d make him so proud. He’d be so honored. He would love it, absolutely love it. It just shows how much he really was loved. He was loved by a lot of people,” TJ’s mother Sherri said.

“Our program, it’s all built off tradition,” Coach Rorex said. “We want our guys to kind understand what’s come before them, and TJ was such a big part of our program’s history.”

This year’s team is focused on making their own history, all while playing for TJ.

“It feels like he’s the 10th man out there,” Chandler said.

“He was like a brother to us and to me and to everyone around here,” Howard said. “I think we’re going to play harder than we’ve ever played before for TJ.”

Lookout Valley will officially dedicate the season to TJ during Monday’s home opener against Whitwell. TJ’s father, Troy Gravitt, Sr. will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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Angela joined the News 12 team in November of 2017 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Angela is a proud member of an Army family, which means she has hometowns all over the Eastern Seaboard. Most recently, she calls Peachtree City, Georgia, home, where she graduated from Trinity Christian School and spent her free time driving her purple golf cart. She then headed to Milledgeville, Georgia, to attend Georgia College and State University. A proud Bobcat, Angela graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication and represented her December 2016 class as one of three valedictorians. Angela comes to the Scenic City from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she worked at the NBC affiliate, WMBF News. Before the big move, she worked as Georgia College's Sports Information Assistant, which let her get paid to be the Bobcats' biggest fan. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, though, where she interned for SAV's number one station, WTOC. When she's not working, you can find Angela watching the New York Giants, Rangers or basically any other game that's on. She also loves traveling, hiking and exploring new places, all with her camera in hand. If you have any story ideas, big or small, feel free to reach out to her on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at amoryan@wdef.com."