Ryan Teixeira, an Arroyo Grande High School graduate and baseball standout who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in September, died Saturday night, according to a post on his CaringBridge website. He was 20 years old.
“Tonight our fearless warrior won his victory … at 7 p.m. Ryan went home to be with Jesus,” his grandmother Cee Teixeira wrote in a post on CaringBridge. “It was very peaceful for Ryan … we know he’s running around heaven shaking hands telling everyone he’s Ryan.”
Teixeira was diagnosed with leukemia eight months after his final round of chemotherapy stemming from his initial cancer diagnosis. He had surgery to remove a 10-pound malignant tumor from his leg a little more than a year ago.
The 2015 Tribune baseball player of the year had been attending Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, where he was a member of the school’s baseball team. After returning from a trip with the team, he caught a cold that wouldn’t go away, ultimately leading to a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia.
“You don’t find people that are the kind of person he was at his age,” said Brad Lachemann, who coached Teixeira at Arroyo Grande High School. “He was just very unselfish, very giving to other people. It was never, ever about him. I think the thing that impacted most people, after 15 minutes of meeting him you felt like you’ve known him your entire life.”
Lachemann said he last saw Teixeira at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in the fall, right after he was taken to the hospital.
“You go through the emotion of being both sad and mad,” Lachemann said. “I’m as mad as I am sad that a kid like him would have to go through this.”
In October, Teixeira found a bone marrow match in his younger brother, Aaron. The transplant was delayed until early January because the leukemia came out of remission.
As Teixeira awaited the transplant at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Justin Turner paid Teixeira — a rabid Dodgers fan — a surprise visit at the hospital in December.
“That was absolutely incredible,” Steve Teixeira, Ryan’s father, said at the time. “It was such a blessing for my son.”
It was just one instance of an outpouring of support from the professional sports world.
Ryan Teixeira’s condition took a turn for the worse in late January, and he was moved to the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit with liver complications. The family posted on CaringBridge on Thursday that, barring a miracle, doctors “have given us only the weekend for Ryan.”
“Prayers are needed for Ryan Teixeira #17Strong please send them up if you can find it in your heart,” Turner tweeted Friday.
And Sunday morning, Teixeira’s university mourned the baseball standout on social media.
“We lost a member of the Maverick Family last night in Ryan Teixeira but #17Strong will forever live on. #RumbleMavs,” tweeted the Colorado Mesa University Athletics Department.
“I think he may have made more of an impact in the time he spent here (in Arroyo Grande) than most people did their entire lives,” Lachemann said.