The unexpected friendship of a college football player honored


While going to train every day, Lavel Dumont saw a young man playing football alone. Something amazing happened when he decided to quit.

ST. LOUIS – Some people cross your path and change direction

No one knows this better than 16-year-old Wyntr Knisely.

“Even though Wyntr is very outgoing, it is still difficult for him to make friends,” said his mother Jennifer Lowe.

And to make matters even more difficult, the family moved to Toledo, Ohio, just before the world shut down. He had become somewhat of a pandemic prisoner.

Wyntr was born with a severe congenital heart defect. He underwent the first of three open heart surgeries when he was only two weeks old.

“So because of the multiple surgeries so early in her life, it caused a lot of developmental delays,” Lowe said.

Wyntr’s heart might have a flaw, but he’s always had plenty of room for love and for sports.

Most of the time you can find it on the Xbox.

“When you tell a kid they can’t play sports, the best thing you can do is play video games,” Lowe said with a laugh.

But Wyntr isn’t just a couch potato.

He also enjoys being outdoors with his football.

“He’s literally throwing the ball at himself,” Lowe said. “Then he’ll throw him as far as he can in the side yard and he’ll run to catch him.”

And his one-man wrestling game caught someone’s attention.

“Last summer I was there and I could tell he was working hard,” said Lavel Dumont with a smile.

Dumont was passing Wyntr’s house on his way to school and one day he just decided to stop.

“I was surprised when Lavel stopped that day because it never happened. I would be there all day everyday and no one would come,” said Wyntr.

“Wyntr calls me and says, ‘Mom, some guy just stopped and talked to me,’” Lowe said. “And I gave him my phone number and I said, ‘Uh, what did you do?'”

“I hadn’t thought of it at the time,” said Dumont. “A random guy pulling up in a car, like trying to talk to him isn’t the best look.”

But Lavel was impressed with Wyntr’s dedication, so he offered him tickets to an upcoming University of Toledo game. This is where he plays football.

Lavel Dumont is a 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman for the Rockets.

“I think he’s the product of good parenting,” said Toledo head coach Jason Candle. “I think he’s a guy who really understands the value of hard work.”

That work was about to pay off until he broke his leg in last season’s opener.

“It’s a tough time for a young man to sustain an injury,” Candle said.

But difficult times often reveal a good character. And Lavel used his time to get to know Wyntr. They may seem like a strange couple, but they’re just good friends who care for each other.

While others remained socially distant, they grew closer.

“Lavel is doing everything possible to save time for Wyntr,” Lowe said. “He’s coming to get him and they’re going to play basketball, or they’re just going to talk.”

And when you’re playing Xbox, the buttons they press aren’t just those on the controller.

“I’m not going to say too much. But the one time he beat me he cheated. That’s all I’m going to say,” Dumont said with a laugh.

For her 16th birthday, Lavel was the first name on Wyntr’s invitation list but Jennifer said her son Lavel was busy. She was actually conspiring with assistant coach Rob Weiner to bring a whole bunch of Rockets to the party.

“It was a real opportunity for our whole team to recognize that this kind of act happened out of the blue,” Weiner said. “It’s something that we really want to be and we should all be behind it.”

And then Lavel arrived.

“He came over, gave me a big hug, jumped on me a bit,” said a smiling Dumont.

Wyntr’s family recently made another move. But even though he and Lavel are now miles from each other, they’re never far.

“He’s my boyfriend, he’s my boyfriend. I love Wyntr,” Dumont said.

“He’s a brother to me, he’s a friend to me, he’s my family,” Wyntr added.

When we kept our distance, they came closer.

A college football player who drove and helped the pandemic turn around.


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