“Live Like Nate” ~ The words stitched onto David Price’s glove.
That was the phrase friends of Nathan Stephens, put on bracelets in August 2007 to cope after Nathan collapsed during a game of basketball in a hot gym and died of a heart attack at the age of 22. Price, who had signed his $11.25 million contract with Tampa Bay only days earlier, promised Stephens after the funeral he would put that on his glove.
The 6-foot-6, hard-throwing left-hander said he carries the memory of Nathan, and another high school friend, Tyler Morrissey, killed in an April 2008 car accident, with him every time he takes the mound.
“I thought about those guys all the time, every day. Seriously every day I was thinking about them. After the Boston game in 2009, I remember just saying to myself, they were definitely there with me for that, and I know they are. I think about them all the time,” Price said.
Nathan was a graduate of Blackman High School where he was an honor student. He was voted most outstanding in Athletics and Academics. He was a former Titans Manager and former manager of the University of Tennessee Men’s Basketball. He was doing his student teaching at UT and was enrolled in graduate school at UT.
Blackman High School, which Price and Stephens attended in Murfreesboro, TN, created the Nathan Stephens Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is funded by donations and is awarded to one college-bound student a year who exemplifies the same traits as Stephens: strong academics, athletic participation and outstanding character. Stephens graduated from Blackman in 2003 as an honor student, and was voted the most outstanding student in both academics and athletics.
The scholarship is part of Project 14, intended to provide opportunities for youth to learn life skills. This initiative alludes to Price’s jersey number, 14. Up to date, Project 14 has raised $32,000 for the Nathan Stephens Scholarship.
Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher David Price’s Project One Four Foundation presented a $25,000 check for the Nathan Stephens Endowment Scholarship Fund Monday at Blackman High School. At the presentation were, from left, Scott Lawless, Blackman athletics director; Blaze senior C.J. Eke; Henry, Dee Ann and BHS senior Lauren Stephens; Bonnie and Debbie Price; and Blackman Principal Gail Vick. The money was raised through a bowling breakfast and benefit at the Smyrna Bowling Center, an Oct. 31 golf tournament at Old Fort Golf Course and November dinner and silent auction at Blackman. David Price, former Vanderbilt All-American and No. 1 draft pick in Major League Baseball’s June 2007 free-agent draft, is in Florida for spring training and was unable to attend the check presentation. He was best friends and former Blaze teammate with Nathan Stephens, who died Aug. 17, 2007, at age 22 after suffering a seizure while playing basketball in Knoxville, where he was a University of Tennessee graduate student. The inaugural Nathan Stephens Scholarship recipient in 2008 was Paul Stephens (no relation), who is attending Auburn University.