Will switch numbers for one game on Saturday to pay tribute to his grandmother and grandfather
Josh Myers in action against Rutgers 2020 (photo by Kirk Irwin courtesy OSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Josh Myers has put on his uniform for Ohio State 31 times over the last three seasons. But when he puts it on Saturday for the 32nd time, something will be entirely different. And it won’t be only because of the No. 50 on the front.
Myers, who has won No. 71 for the duration of his time with the Buckeyes, will wear a new numbers with a special meaning when the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes tangle with No. 9 Indiana on Saturday. The inspiration for the change comes to pay homage to two of the most important people in his life: his grandmother, Beverly Myers – “Mimi” – and his grandfather, Donnie Myers, “Papaw.”
“They were the type of grandparents that never missed a sporting event,” said Myers, who grew up with them in Miamisburg. “My grandmother is 78 years old and for the last couple of years she’d watch my cousins play on Friday night for Miamisburg and then turn around and go to my game in Columbus or sometimes even on the road. She’s the sweetest, kindest lady you could ever meet.”
Beverly and Donnie met and began dating when they were both attending Miamisburg High School in the late 1950s. Donnie was a three-sport athlete, equally talented as an offensive lineman on the football team – where he wore No. 50 – as one of the school’s all-time leading scorers on the basketball court and also on the baseball field. He and Beverly where eventually married and settled in Miamisburg, where they raised their family that came to include Josh as one of their many grandchildren.
As Josh grew older, he too found success on the football field. His grandfather passed away in 2009 from Alzheimer’s, but as Josh was home during the quarantine this past spring an idea popped into his head about how to keep his memory alive.
When Myers left for college in January of 2017, his grandmother gave him a box with the No. 50 cut out from his grandfather’s game-worn jersey. Since then, she’s cut out a piece of the jersey and given it to Josh before every game of his Ohio State career. He keeps that piece of his jersey in his sock, as both a symbolic and practical way to keep Papaw’s memory and spirit alive every Saturday.
But last spring, as Myers looked through photos that his grandmother had collected of the generations of Myers who played football and were connected because of the game, and idea came to him: while Josh has honored Papaw’s memory privately for the past three years, 2020 would be the year that he did so publically.
So, the plan was hatched: Myers would honor is grandfather – and grandmother – by wearing No. 50 for one game this season. And what will be her reaction when she sees Myers take the field in his new numbers? That’s an easy one.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that she’ll cry,” said Myers, who will wear No. 50 for just this one game. “She’s a big crier. She’s the sweetest.”
Myers said he parents have attended every game in both his high school and college career. And while they won’t be in the stadium on Saturday, he’ll have the whole family with him thanks to the number on the front of his jersey.
“This is the longest I’ve gone without seeing my family and I won’t be seeing them anytime soon,” said Myers. “I miss them like crazy but I’m excited because I think this will be a cool thing.”
Before the game, Myers will have another piece of Papaw close to him – or around his neck to be more specific. When Donnie and Beverly were dating as students at Miamisburg High School, Donnie took a screw off his cleat, drilled a hole in it and gave it to Beverly as a necklace – a symbol at the time for football players to share with their girlfriends. Over 50 years later, Josh will wear that necklace on Friday and Saturday. He’ll take it off just before slipping on his pads, which this week will mean a whole lot more than it has the previous 31 times.
“My grandmother is the type of person who does so much for other people,” said Myers. “She cares so much. I wanted to be able to try and give back to her in some way.”
THE PEOPLE. THE TRADITION. THE EXCELLENCE.
WRITTEN BY Jerry Emig, Mike Basford, Candace Johnson; COURTESY OHIO STATE BUCKEYES ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS