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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Remembering Deon Lendore

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Former student-athlete and winner of The Bowerman, Deon Leondre, died on Jan. 10, 2022.

Born Oct. 28, 1992, in Arima, Trinidad, Deon Lendore died in a car accident on Jan. 10 while returning home from a Texas A&M track practice. Deon left behind a legacy inside, and outside, of athletics in Aggieland through his once-in-a-lifetime talents and deep connections with those around him. Deon was 29 years old.
Deon came to A&M in 2012 to join coach Pat Henry’s track team — which he discovered by watching YouTube videos of 4×400-meter races. In his two years with the program he claimed two NCAA titles and won The Bowerman in 2014, the highest honor for NCAA track athletes, becoming the only male recipient of the award in A&M history.
After his death, A&M hosted a celebration of life on Jan. 20 in which his coaches, teammates, family and friends spoke.
“[Attending A&M] was not just his accomplishment,” Deon’s brother-in-law Keive Vanloo said at the celebration of life. “It was a community achievement. It was a celebration like no other. One of us was going to college in the U.S. Oh, what an achievement that was. We were so proud of him.”
In his professional track career, Deon represented Trinidad and Tobago in three Olympic games: 2012, 2016 and 2020. In the London 2012 Olympics, Deon and the Trinidad and Tobago men’s 4×400-meter relay team earned a bronze medal.
Henry said the loss of Deon and his role in A&M’s track program was also a loss of a friend for all of A&M.
“As coaches, we all have athletes we know as athletes,” Henry said. “Deon became a friend. In 10 years, he was a great friend of mine. We didn’t have that athlete-coach relationship that whole time. He became a friend.”
From 2020 until 2022, Deon worked as a volunteer assistant coach for the A&M track program in addition to his professional career contracted with Puma. Deon’s death came just a month after the loss of track athlete Chance McKay Gibson.
“You athletes sitting out there don’t realize the impact you have on us [coaches] … the impact you have on us is just life-long,” coach Henry said at the ceremony. “And if you’re here very long as Deon was, you become much, much more than just an athlete.”
During Deon’s celebration of life, Henry recounted the beginning of a famous A&M track tradition. In Deon’s first appearance at the Texas Relays, he looked down and clipped his bib with athlete’s identifying 
numbers onto his shirt upside down.
Though it was an accident, the team and the coaching staff quickly realized that the Longhorns’ logo on the bib had also been flipped upside down. Much to the chagrin of the University of Texas, the A&M track program now wears their bibs in this fashion at every Texas Relays meet.
“Our team has worn it that way for nine years now and some people in Austin don’t like that,” Henry said. “In fact, they’ve come to us as a team and told us they thought we should not do that. We’re going to keep doing it.”
Through the rest of his professional career, Deon earned five world medals: gold in 4x400m relay at the International Amateur Athletic Federation World Relays in 2019, silver in 4x400m relay in 2015, bronze in the 400m and 4x400m 2016 World Indoor Championships and bronze in the 400m at the 2018 World Indoor Championships.
“With the volume of work that Deon has had, I would say he is probably the finest male track athlete we have ever had,” Henry said.
Deon’s girlfriend Jasper Gray — a former track athlete and now coach who he met six years ago — said on social media she was heartbroken at the thought of no longer cheering for him at races.
“Deon was literally my heart,” Gray said. “I will love him forever, and he meant the world to me. I hope you guys cherish him and continue living out his legacy.”
Vanloo said Deon, his outstanding athletic accomplishments and his impacts on others’ lives, will not be forgotten.
“We, the family, will be forever grateful to you, Texas A&M, for making him a part of your family — for providing and giving your best to serve in a field that he loved,” Vanloo said. “Deon will live on through the sands of time, and his legacy will live on forever in our hearts.”

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