Loss of loved one

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Zach Alvira    College Times

Chandler High School alum and ASU cornerback Chase Lucas has always been passionate about his family.

They have been a tight-knit bunch for as long as he can remember, constantly supporting one another in each of their endeavors. His grandparents, Rosalind and Charles, were heavily involved in Chandler football program when he played for the Wolves. Lucas and his grandfather still go fishing together on a regular basis, an activity they started when he was young.

“My family is everything to me,” Lucas says. “My mom, grandparents, my aunt, they all did everything for me.”

Lucas has both of his grandparents’ names tattooed on his left arm. His mother’s name, Valerie, is on his left bicep. To him, it’s a way to show how deeply he cares for them and to keep them close by whether he’s at home or on a road trip with the Sun Devil football program.

He has plans to add his aunt’s name, Tara, on his ribs. But that tattoo will differ from the rest. It will be in honor of her legacy after her life was cut short.

“My aunt, she came to every game. So, when people heard it through the grapevine it was really sad,” Lucas says. “I feel like now I really have a purpose to get right and do something amazing for my family.”

Tara Rose Lucas passed away February 2 after she was involved in a car accident in Scottsdale. She was 44 years old.

Lucas says the crash happened close to 6 miles from his home. That made the loss even more difficult to fathom.

“I felt like I could’ve done something,” Lucas says. “But I knew God wanted her at that point, so I couldn’t be too mad. I just want to celebrate her life and live through her.”

Growing up in a single-parent household, Tara became a second parent to Lucas. He says she was the “glue” of the family, always making sure everybody was in a good place.

Without any kids of her own, Lucas says she revolved her entire life on working to provide for him and the rest of the kids in the family.

When she passed, she left behind a legacy of love and care for everyone around her. She made an impact on everyone she came in contact with. Nearly 300 family, friends and coworkers attended her service.

“It showed me how loved she really was,” Lucas says. “I’m very proud of my aunt for the legacy she built here on this earth. I want to dedicate everything I have done, everything I accomplish from here on out to her.”

Lucas burst onto the national recruiting scene as a sophomore at Chandler, rushing for 883 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 436 receiving yards and four more scores at running back. ASU quickly offered.

As a junior in 2014, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and helped lead the Wolves to a state-title win over rival Hamilton. To this day, he and New England Patriot wide receiver N’Keal Harry still bring up the championship win.

“I was just stunned that I made what I wanted to happen, happen,” Lucas says. “Coming up I looked up to Deion and Cameron Jordan, Brett Hundley, all of those guys who came so close to getting a championship.

“We changed that.”

Lucas began making his transition to defense as a senior, and ultimately signed with ASU as a four-star prospect. He had planned to play safety for the Sun Devils, but was talked into becoming a cornerback during his redshirt freshman season.

He started for ASU as a redshirt freshman in 2017, and didn’t disappoint.

The 6-foot, 175-pounder recorded 59 total tackles, the fifth-most on the team. He was the most-targeted cornerback in the Pac-12, but had the fifth-lowest completion percentage in the conference with eight pass break ups and two interceptions. He was named a freshman first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and second-team honors in the Pac-12.

Lucas continued to improve in 2018, recording 62 total tackles, including six for a loss and two sacks. He also added three more interceptions.

As he enters his redshirt junior season in 2019, he is being regarded as a potential first-round pick should he continue his on-field success.

“When I was in fifth grade my email was, ‘I want to be in the NFL,’” Lucas recalls. “I’ve always been determined to make a name for myself. I want everybody to know who I am.”

Lucas doesn’t know whether he will declare for the draft at the end of the 2019 season. That’s a decision he is hoping his aunt will help him with when the time comes.

For now, he plans to continue leading by example for the Sun Devils on the field.

ASU returns most of its defense next season, as only three starters graduated. Sophomore linebackers Merlin Robertson and Darien Butler will look to build on impressive freshman outings, while Highland High School alum and redshirt sophomore Tyler Johnson had a breakout year at defensive end.

Lucas, fellow cornerback Kobe Williams and safeties Aashari Crosswell and Chaparral High School alum Tyler Whiley will likely make up most of ASU’s secondary.

“We are a family out there,” Lucas says. “I’m just trying to be the best player I can be to help my team.”

Lucas begins each day by looking at a picture of him and his aunt hanging on a wall in his home. It’s a constant reminder to keep building his legacy at ASU in his family’s honor.

He plans to set an example for the underclassmen in the program both on and off the field. He admits the accolades he has received during his time with the Sun Devils has been nice, but he ultimately aims to be seen as a role model rather than just another football player.

“I want to be the type of person that when people talk to me they think, ‘Man, I really like that kid,’” Lucas says. “I want to be someone people look up to. That’s my goal.” CT

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