She ran the 100 and 200 meters just like dad. She was so fast and would’ve been a college standout. This he has no doubt.
That’s why Tyson Gay nearly walked away from racing. It was too painful with his daughter gone. So painful that when he trains he feels the stress in his back and can’t shake it off.
Only, she wouldn’t want him to quit. So he keeps sprinting in the memory of his 15-year-old daughter, Trinity, who was shot and killed in October outside a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky.
“It’s crushing and it never goes away. But you try to live with it,” said Gay , who stumbled at the start and didn’t advance out of the first round in the 100 on Thursday night at the U.S. track and field championships. “You try to think about the good times.”
Like how she used to visit him in Florida for spring break or Thanksgiving. Or how they had the same teacher in high school and the teacher once playfully told Trinity how much better of a student she was than her father. Or how when he couldn’t spell a word, he would turn and ask her.
Out of habit, he still does that.
“I think about my daughter every day,” Gay said as he sat in a hotel lobby after a training session. “Every day.”
He didn’t hear the phone ring in the early morning hours on Oct. 16. His sister came downstairs and woke him up. Trinity was shot outside a Lexington restaurant after witnesses told police that gunfire was exchanged between two vehicles. She was hit by a stray round. There have been four charged in connection with her death.
“You’re upset you couldn’t be there to stop it,” Tyson Gay said. “It was just a group of honor students, going out to have a good time. And something like that happens? Crazy.
“I cried on the plane the whole way home. I was numb. I probably never cried that hard in my life.”
The tears keep flowing .
“The funeral, the wake, the burial, everything was unreal,” Gay said. “It’s been eight months and it still seems unreal. … I don’t think you ever have peace. I’ve learned to think about the good times, try to block that image of her death out of my mind.”
For the next month, it was hard for him to do much of anything, let alone return to track. After all, running was their thing.
Trinity was a sprinter at Lafayette High in Lexington and finished fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 200 at the state Class 3A high school track meet in May 2016. She also ran on a 4×200 relay team that finished fourth.
She never thought of herself as the daughter of Tyson Gay. She was Trinity Gay.
“I was so proud of her with that,” Gay said. “She was just a happy person. She was happy, loving and wanted to be herself. I never felt like she was in my shadow.”
He returned to training in late November more to “clear my mind and get out of the house,” he said. “You’re looking for closure every day and it doesn’t come. It’s just been tough in that sense.”
At 34, he’s not sure how many years he has left in the sprint game. This season for sure and then he will see how he feels.
Gay is the American record holder in the 100 (9.69 seconds) and he competed in the last three Summer Olympics. He was part of a team that won a silver medal in the 4×100 relay at the 2012 London Games, though that medal was ultimately stripped after Gay tested positive for steroids in 2013.
“I’ve been through every major upset and every major stresser that life can give you,” Gay said. “It’s very hard emotionally. It would’ve been easy for me to quit (track). I’m still fighting.”
She would’ve wanted him to keep running. She had a front row seat at some of his biggest meets.
“Track is something she loved. It’s something I loved,” Gay said. “I had a college coach tell me a year ago, `Hey man, we need your daughter to run for us.’ I told her about it and she got tickled. She thought it was so cool. That made me so proud.”