Tyler Trent, Purdue Boilermakers superfan who inspired many, dies of cancer at 20

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Purdue student with terminal cancer gets to watch upset he predicted
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Tyler Trent, a 20-year-old Purdue University student in hospice care amid battle against terminal bone cancer, was at Ross-Ade Stadium when the Boilermakers pulled off a stunning upset against Ohio State that he had predicted.

WEST LAFEYETTE, Ind. -- Tyler Trent, a 20-year-old Purdue Boilermakers superfan who captured sports fans' attention when he predicted an upset against the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in October, died on Tuesday of a rare form of bone cancer.

Numerous social media accounts associated with Purdue University, including the Purdue University Athletics Department and the Purdue Center for Cancer Research, confirmed Trent's death on Twitter on Tuesday.

Trent, a Purdue sophomore, first earned the Boilermakers' admiration when he camped outside their stadium last September ahead of the team's Big Ten home opener against No. 8 Michigan. Trent posed with head coach Jeff Brohm the morning of that game, but did not tell him that he spent the previous afternoon at a chemotherapy session to treat osteosarcoma.

"You just see a guy dressed in Purdue garb head-to-toe with a big smile on his face," Brohm said in an October interview. "He didn't tell me his story. He didn't tell me what he was going through. He just had a positive attitude."

Trent's story and Purdue fandom gained national attention in October when he predicted the upset against Ohio during a profile about him on College GameDay. He was in hospice care at the time and his family thought it might be the last Purdue game he got to attend. Though his deteriorating health had forced him to withdraw from classes for the semester, Trent managed to return to watch the game from the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research suite at Ross-Ade Stadium, the Indy Star reported.

Against the odds, Trent's prediction came true Oct. 20 when the Boilermakers upset Ohio State 49-20. Purdue also set a school record for points scored against the Buckeyes, besting the mark of 41 in 1967.

"Unexplainable. That's Boilermaker spirit right there," Trent told ESPN of the game's outcome, adding that he didn't envision the night playing out as it did. "I knew we had a chance, but I didn't think it would be 42-20."

Trent's cancer was first discovered in 2014 after he broke his arm while throwing a Frisbee, ESPN reported. He underwent surgery to replace the bone in the upper half of his right arm and did nine rounds of chemotherapy before his cancer went into remission.

The Carmel, Indiana, native earned a scholarship to attend Purdue before the cancer returned at the end of his senior year of high school. He underwent surgery to replace his pelvic bone less than two weeks before the start of his first semester at Purdue and told doctors he was dead set on starting school on time - a goal that he achieved.

Trent's cancer spread to his spine in 2018, forcing him to leave campus and return to his family's home in Carmel in September. Boilermakers players went to his home the following weekend to pray with him and present him with the game ball from a win over Nebraska.

Trent's classmates rallied around him throughout his battle with cancer, starting a #TylerStrong social media campaign and replacing their usual "IU sucks" kickoff chant with a "Cancer sucks" chant in his honor.

The Purdue Center for Cancer Research set up an endowment in Trent's name, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Walther Cancer Foundation.

ESPN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.