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Dennis Bowers, Eric Bamberg and Gaines Adams.
Bowers lost all three over the course of the past year, starting with Adams, who Bowers refers to as his big brother. Adams, who wore No. 93 at Clemson before Bowers, died in his sleep this past January. Bowers’ father Dennis died almost two weeks ago with Da’Quan sitting by his side. Bowers’ mentor, Bamberg, was a former Bamberg Ehrhardt High School football player and school resource offer.
He died this past Sunday, when Bowers had originally planned to return to Clemson.
“Those three guys will be sitting together with the best three seats in the house,” Bowers said on Thursday, his first day back on the football practice field. “Of course this season is dedicated to them.”
The support Bowers has received is more than he could have ever imagined. It’s poured in from fans, friends and teammates over the past week and a half.
Last Friday, several of Bowers’ Clemson teammates boarded a bus for Bamberg in support of their teammate.
“I was excited to see them. Nothing touched my heart like that, to see my teammates in the same pain that I’m in. Some of them have lost fathers,” Bowers said. “Ben Ramsey called me, Daniel Andrews. Guys like that basically walked me through the process. I’m very thankful for that.”
Fortunately for Bowers, he was able to spend time at his father’s side in the Augusta hospital where he died on Sunday, Aug. 8.
“When he died, I showed emotion by myself. When he passed away in the hospital, I sat there and just talked to him. Something just came to me that said, ‘straighten up and be strong.’ Ever since then, Sunday on the eighth at about 10 o’clock, I’ve showed very little emotion towards his loss,” Bowers said. “I miss him, but he left me with a job to do.
“He wouldn’t want me to show emotion and let that get in the way of what I’m supposed to do here.”
For Bowers, practice couldn’t have come any sooner. His return to the gridiron has helped provide a therapeutic outlet.
“I couldn’t wait to get back out there with my team,” he said. “I was actually a little upset that they had [Tuesday] off. I was so anxious to get back out here. I’m just happy to be back out here with my teammates and doing something I love best.”
Bowers has some work to do. He was fine mentally, not so much physically.
“I’m getting back into slowly, but surely. I missed 13 days. I lost some of my shape. I’ll have to do some extra running on my own to get back into shape and get ready for the season,” he said. “It’s not going to be a problem. I pretty much came back where I left.”