MILWAUKEE — The spotlight usually lands on the pro athletes. But there are numerous people behind the scenes who never get recognition. We change that today, with the passing of Brian Sayles, who touched so many in his roles with the Milwaukee Admirals and Wave.
"A beautiful person that did not have a mean bone in his body. And we love him and miss him so much," Larry Sayles says.
Brian Sayles passed away after heart surgery at the age of 36, with an outpouring of support from his Admirals and Wave family, as they grieve.
"Not having Brian here, you know I think there's going to be a hole in our locker room, that's going to take a long time to get filled back in, if it ever does," Admirals President Jon Greenberg says.
"Larry and Kathy should be so proud of the legacy that they have with their son. I mean, if underneath the word family in the dictionary, would be that family," former Wave Head Coach Keith Tozer says.
Brian assisted both pro teams, putting the athletes' needs in front of his own, shown one time when Brett Favre visited a Wave game.
"Brian was on the bench filling up water bottles, getting ready for the game," Larry Sayles says. "And Kathy would come down and say 'Brian, we're going to go take our picture with the MACC Fund.' And he would say 'Mom, I can't do it now! I gotta take care of my players!'"
"I remember after games with the Badger band here, you know, he would have to get across to get the water bottles out of the penalty boxes," Greenberg says. "And the band's out there doing their thing in the middle of the ice and you know, there are guys sliding on their knees and trombones all over the place and Brian is making his way across, and he, didn't matter, he had a job to do and it was time to do it."
Brian was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 4, and the MACC Fund stepped in.
"We got so great support from the MACC Fund people. And Jonny Mac (Jon McGlocklin) you know and John Cary, who was just there for us," Larry Sayles says.
But despite serious challenges, he wasn't afraid to mix it up, like with the Wave's Dusosky twins.
"Todd told me, he said 'hey, I came in the locker room Larry' and Brian said, 'do you want some of this!'" Larry Sayles says.
In 36 years, Brian's life was shorter than most, but likely left a more lasting impression than most.
"Larry reached out to me the other day and asked me to do the eulogy, which is a huge honor for me," Tozer says. "I mean to see Brian grow up, as long as I have, along with Larry and Kathy and Mary. It's an honor, so I will definitely look forward to it."
"Somebody came to me on Wednesday, the day that Brian passed and said he's a pure soul. And that really kind of sums it up. He was a very pure soul," Larry Sayles says.
Our prayers are with the Sayles family for healing, and we are thinking of all Brian touched in his impactful 36 years.