Tavaris Tate has been a part of a state championship track team at Starkville High School.
He has also reached All-American status at Mississippi State with his participation on the 4x400 and 4x100 relay teams, and will run the 400-meter dash for the United States later this week at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
The one person that has remained by Tate's side every step of the way has been his father Russell.
Russell will once again accompany his son when they leave for the Olympic Trials on Wednesday.
"To have this week, go forward and have my father there to support me, not only as a father but as a coach, it means a lot to me," Tavaris said. "There were a lot of days I felt like shutting it down and he was there to push me forward. That's one of the reasons I stand here today to know I'm a hard worker in whatever I do because my dad has worked hard at his job at being a father."
Russell said the Olympic Trials is the latest in a line of goals achieved for Tavaris.
Since being exposed to track and field over 15 years ago, Russell understands how much God has blessed Tavaris during that time.
"I praise God for the opportunity he's been given," Russell said. "Truly we've had some ups and downs, but it's been a blessing to have the opportunity to be qualified and go to the Olympic Trials. He's a blessed athlete to even make it and be a part of the U.S. team. All glory is to be given to the Lord because so many fall short and wish they had the opportunity. You have many to have the talent, but don't get the opportunity to go."
There are only 28 athletes that get to participate in the Olympic Trials and Russell is thankful that Tavaris will be one of those to have the chance to run for his country.
It all began for Tavaris when he was 5-years-old when his father began working with him and it carried on through AAU, high school and college.
The bond of love is important for Tavaris, Russell and the rest of their family.
"It's the understanding the Lord has kept us together as a family and that's what my dad preaches all the time - the love of family," Tavaris said. "With me and my other siblings, it's knowing that there's no love is greater than a father's love for his son or daughter. To have that special person as a father there to watch my progression and watch everything he has instilled inside of me is just great to show."
Russell appreciates all of those who have supported Tavaris on his ride and specifically singled out the late Don Foster, former sports editor of The Starkville Daily News.
"The Bible said to give honor to those which it is due," Russell said. "With (Foster) being gone, he was a strong instrument of encouragement to Tavaris. He gave Tavaris a graduation card before we left to go to the outdoor world championship the year that he died and in that card, he had wrote that he looked forward to go to London and watch him in the Olympics. Anytime I think about him, it brings chills to my body because he was a good guy. (Foster's) sister that lives in Oxford wanted to meet us and it was an honor for her to meet Tavaris because (Foster) talked so much about us.
"I thank God for the support from everybody from the Starkville community, to the Columbus community, our family and our friends. We solicit the prayers of everyone consistently in our travel there and when we get there that the Lord will continue to grace him, touch him and keep his hands upon him while he's a part of the United States team and represents to the fullest."View more articles in: