Texas A&M-Commerce remembers players after tragedy

By  | 

COMMERCE, TX -- As Texas A&M University at Commerce gears up for graduation ceremonies, they're also grieving the loss of two of their own yesterday.

Now trying to pick up the missing pieces.

"Your immediate reaction is just shock," said A&M Commerce Athletic Director Ryan Ivey. "You're just searching for answers, trying to figure out why it happened."

"When you get the news that it's actually your girls and that two of them passed away," said Head Women's Basketball Coach Jason Burton. "There is nothing that can prepare you for that."

Four A&M Commerce student-athletes, all members of the women's basketball team, were in a horrible car accident Tuesday night in Paris. The accident claimed the lives of 20-year-old Aubree Butts of Lewisville and 21-year-old Devin Oliver of Rowlett and injuring 19-year-old Zenobia Winbush and 21-year-old La'Tisha Hearne.

"My message to the campus community, and really just all of Lion Nation, is to really be strong, to come together and to know that we certainly can be there for each other," said Ivey.

The four teammates were coming back from watching the Cooper Summer League girls play in Paris. They'd developed a bond with the girls during basketball camps.

Head coach Jason Burton says that speaks to their character.

"They're in summertime and it's a night that they probably don't want to do anything, but hang out and stay at home," said Burton. "And they decided to get in the car, drive 40 minutes and go watch some young ladies play basketball and support them."

Players and coaches say Devin was the team jokester and Aubree was known as "Bey" after Beyonce, because she was always dressed up.

"I think of those two young ladies as, eventually when I have kids, what I want my daughters to be like," said Burton. "They're amazing young ladies, they're smart, they're intelligent, they're the hardest workers."

On the university's Facebook page today, Texas A&M Commerce posted a photo stating "Lion Strong," to unite the campus during this tragedy.

Tonight the University will hold a candlelight vigil on campus at Rachel's Garden beginning at nine to remember Devin Oliver and Aubree Butts.