Sam Ehlinger’s Dad, Ross’, Tragic Death Motivates Texas QB

The death of Sam Ehlinger’s father, Ross Ehlinger, in 2013 continues to shape the Texas quarterback. Ross was just 46 years old when he died while competing at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco. Sam grew up in a Longhorns household and knows his father is watching him shine as he wears burnt orange.

“It’s just like I want to make him proud and I want to do the things he wanted me to do, exceed his expectations,” Sam explained to Dallas News. “I know he’s watching. That’s kind of how it plays into my motivation, that if he was here, what would he be making me do and how could I get better?”

Texas head coach Tom Herman often speaks of his quarterback’s maturity. It a poise that comes from enduring tragedy, and the Texas coach knows his demeanor emerged from the passing of his father.

“This [Sam] is an extremely mature guy,” Tom noted to the Dallas News. “You don’t go through what he went through in eighth grade and all of a sudden have to be the man of your household and not mature very quickly. He’s a bit of an old soul and really, really mature for a guy his age and in his position. I think that’s what has allowed him to step into this role maybe a little bit easier than most.”

Sam Went to Westlake High School in Austin Before Heading to the University of Texas

Sam Ehlinger Honors Late Father on Texas Football Field | The Players' TribuneEach time Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger takes the field, it’s a chance to honor his late father. Through the good times and the bad, there was always Texas football. #SamEhlinger #TexasFootball #ThePlayersTribune » Subscribe to The Players' Tribune: » Visit The Players' Tribune website for the latest written and video content: About The…2019-08-29T13:17:21.000Z

Sam’s story feels a bit like a movie, but any good narrative has tension. Sam was a standout quarterback at Westlake High School in Austin before heading to the University of Texas. Sam’s father died when he was in eighth grade just before he started at Westlake. One of the hard things for Sam is that his dad was not there for any of the major football games he would soon be playing.

“He passed when I was in eighth grade, so I never experienced playing a big football game and having him there,” Ehlinger admitted to ESPN. “[My dad is] almost like another conscience that you hear. You have those people on your shoulder, and I feel like there’s a third one. There’s the good and the bad and then him.”

Sam leading the Longhorns feels like a storybook ending, but stories are not just full of triumphs. The Texas quarterback still leans on the voice of his father even if he cannot see him in the stands.

The Cause of Sam’s Dad, Ross’, Death Is Believed to Have Been Linked to a Heart Arrhythmia

Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger fulfills childhood dream for late father | College GameDayTexas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger shares his experiences growing up after his father passed away and how his mother became the rock to inspire him to fulfill his childhood dream for his dad. ✔ Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: ✔ Subscribe to ESPN FC on YouTube: ✔ Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on…2019-01-01T19:45:01.000Z

Ross died while swimming in the San Francisco Bay and a heart arrhythmia is believed to have played a role in his death, per ESPN. Like Sam, Ross was an athlete and youth football coach in addition to his responsibilities as a lawyer. Sam has a tattoo in his father’s honor, MDLXVI, the Roman numerals of Ross’ triathlon number.
Man who died in Alcartaz triathlon was Austin lawyerThe man who died while competing in Sunday's "Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon" near San Francisco was identified Monday as Ross Herbert Ehlinger, 46, an Austin attorney.2013-03-04T23:33:23.000Z

Sam’s mom, Jen, and his two siblings, Jacob and Morgan, have learned to get through the pain together. Jen noted that they can collectively feel when they are thinking about Ross.

“There is almost an unspoken language moment for us when we all know we are thinking of Ross,” Jen said, per WKYC. “Even in the happiest moments, we’re just a little bit sad because he is not here.”