The bonds of Bison brotherhood: Supporting Shepherd

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -- Bison senior receiver Darrius Shepherd took the practice field this fall missing someone special.

His father, Louis passed away July 20th after a long fight.

After two kidney transplants he took on a battle with cancer.

All the while, supporting his son's dreams nine hours away in Fargo.

"My dad is my rock, my guy," Darrius said. "He played football and we've just always talked football all the time and so it was just really special to have him to talk to."

Louis played college football at Missouri and shared all he knew with his son.

"I'm really going to miss him but the lessons I learned from him I'm going to continue to use, just to be a better man and help those around me," Darrius shared.

The speical bond he shared with his father has also served as a release for Darrius.

"It is a really good get away during the day, put my mind on something else. But it was definitely tough not being able to see him every night and being nine hours away but guys like Chase Morlock definitely were guys that I could lean on and help me through that time, it helped having guys like that around," he said.

Chase Morlock, a former Bison running back lost his father to cancer during his senior season with the Bison. The Moorhead native spoke many times about the support from his teammates and Bison Nation and he was there to pay it forward for the Shepherd family.

Along with seven other Bison brothers.

They jumped in the car in July and made the trip to Missouri for the service. Stopping over in Omaha to stay with Easton Stick's family before the Shepherd family hosted them in Missouri.

"That was a really special moment when I found out all those guys were coming down. It meant a lot," Darrius said of the support. "I think that's what Bison pride really is and just getting back up here with the team has really helped a lot."

"They don't make them any tougher than Shep," senior quarterback Easton Stick said of his friend. "It meant a ton for us, it was something that as seniors, we talked about being there to support him in any way we could and so we made sure to do that."

As Shepherd left his family in Missouri, for his family in Fargo, he prepares for his first football season without his dad.

But his Bison brothers are there and waiting with their unwavering support.

"You just continue to be a friend," Stick said of his plans to support Darrius from here on out. "He knows that there's a locker room that cares about him and loves him."

Plus he said he will always remember his dad's advice to: "Never get too high, too low just always stay even keel and keep making plays."

The team is wearing bracelets in memory of Louis Shepherd and Darrius said he plans to get a tattoo down the road in memory of his father.