The family in pain will be wearing No. 16 buttons Saturday, at the Division I lacrosse national semifinals. Sean Peters’ father and mother. Sean Peters’ brother and sister. All in memory of the son and sibling who just left them, way too soon.

Sean has been gone less than a month, an athlete taken at the age of 22 by complications from Type 1 diabetes. How fragile can life be? He died on April 29, exactly one week after he scored two goals and had two assists on senior day at UMass Dartmouth. From a happy celebration to a tear-stained memorial service, so suddenly, so dreadfully.

What’s a family to do, amid such anguish? This family is going to Gillette Stadium Saturday.

“It’s just something that we do. We’re a lacrosse family,” Sean’s father Chris said over the phone this week. “If Sean was here, he’d be going. We’re looking at it like, we want to carry on.”

So there they’ll be, Chris and his wife Alison. Their son James and daughter Katie. A few friends. Probably some of Sean’s teammates. There will be some tailgating and laughs and lacrosse, for life goes on. And they’ll all know why they’re there, to see Denver and Ohio State, and Towson and Maryland.

“We’re putting one foot in front of another,” Chris said. “Going to these finals is something we continue to do. Lacrosse is kind of like a fraternity. We enjoy being part of it.”

Last home game at 7 tonight. Doing it for 16 #SPStrong

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Sean Peters was 17 months old when word first came about the diabetes. He would endure, according to one story, 30,000 finger pin pricks over the next two decades, as doctors kept vigilance of the disease. Meantime, Sean lived with a constant brightness, and impacted a lot of people around him while doing it.

That’s why they came by the hundreds to his memorial service. Why UMass Dartmouth retired his No. 16 jersey. Why his old high school at Medway, Mass., just had its own ceremony, presenting his No. 15 prep jersey to the family.

“It’s been tremendous, terrific support from our local community and the college community, the lacrosse community,” Chris said. “It’s just been very helpful, very heart-warming.”

So how are they doing?

“We’re doing ok,” said the father who loves lacrosse, and saw that love pass to his children, including the son he lost.  It’ll be good to be at the game Saturday. Always has been. Always will be. Sean thought so, too."

Mike Lopresti is a member of the US Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, Ball State journalism Hall of Fame and Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. He has covered college basketball for 43 years, including 38 Final Fours. He is so old he covered Bob Knight when he had dark hair and basketball shorts were actually short.
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