Mike Lutzenkirchen urges BCS students to learn from son’s life, death

Published 5:14 pm Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mike Lutzenkirchen speaks to Briarwood students about the importance of actions and decisions on Nov. 19. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Mike Lutzenkirchen speaks to Briarwood students about the importance of actions and decisions on Nov. 19. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY—Mike Lutzenkirchen knows the profound impact actions and decisions can have, both positive and negative. On Nov. 19, Lutzenkirchen shared the powerful story of his son’s life and death with Briarwood Christian School students.

Lutzenkirchen’s son, Philip, was a star tight end and two-year captain of the Auburn University football team. He was a star in the classroom as well as a three-time All-Academic SEC Performer and earning a 3.5 GPA. He graduated with a communications degree from Auburn.

“Throughout life, (Philip) made pretty important decisions,” Mike said. “He knew he wanted to get a degree because it was important.”

Philip also had a big heart, Mike explained, recalling both big and small things he did to help those around him.

“He had love in his heart, he loved people,” Mike said.

At age 23, just before his death, Philip had a good job in the finance industry and had just been asked to emcee the Auburn Fellowship of Christian Athletes 50th anniversary event.

“Philip had a plan, and he was working it,” Mike said. “His plan in life was working because he got a job.”

Philip’s life was cut short in a single-car accident in the early morning hours of June 29, 2014. Philip and the vehicle’s driver were pronounced dead on the scene, both registered a more than .08 blood alcohol level and Philip had not been wearing a seat belt.

“When you have a series of poor decisions in a compressed time period, there is no discrimination… there will be consequences,” Mike said. “I blame no one for Philip’s decision making other than Philip.”

Had Philip made different decisions—not gotten in the car, not over-consumed alcohol, buckled his seat belt—or if a friend had stood up and stopped the bad decision making, the story might have had a different ending, Mike said.

“Are you a good friend or are you a great friend?” Mike asked the Briarwood students before him, challenging them to not only stand up for their own well-being, but also for that of their friends.

Mike urged the students to learn from Philip’s death by staying away from alcohol, buckling their seat belts and not taking part in dangerous behavior.

He also encouraged students to learn from Philip’s life and good decisions by taking school seriously, representing themselves well and using their talents to help others.

“God created a gift, and you’re all a gift… My challenge to you now is take your talent and find some time to give your gift to somebody else,” Mike said. “If you act more like Philip and avoid the poor decisions that he made… my belief is that you’re going to be a better person.”