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Philip’s Story

Philip Lutzenkirchen was a student-athlete at Lassiter High School and Auburn University, yet his impact on the world went far beyond football. He was a loving son, brother, and friend. He was a man of great faith as a devout follower of Christ. He was kind and generous and someone who went out of his way to help others. Philip was a large presence in the community, both in Marietta, GA, where he grew up, and during his time at Auburn. Philip is well known for his accolades on the football field. At Lassiter, he became one of the top tight end prospects in the country, amassing over 1,000 yards receiving his senior year. He appeared on ESPN’s “Top Plays” for a miraculous play where he caught a ball out of bounds and threw it to a teammate for a touchdown.

After receiving dozens of offers from all over the country, Philip committed to play his college career at Auburn. At Auburn, everything came together for Philip and the Tigers in 2010 during their National Championship season, the first for the school in over 50 years. Philip became a household name when he caught the game-winning touchdown from Cam Newton in the Iron Bowl to defeat Alabama for the SEC West crown, sending Auburn to the SEC Championship Game. Unfortunately, Philip’s Auburn career was cut short due to a season-ending hip injury during his senior season, an injury from which he would never fully recover.

Despite his injury, he finished his career as Auburn’s all-time touchdown reception leader at tight end with 14 TD catches. After going undrafted in the NFL Draft, Philip signed with the St. Louis Rams to achieve his goal of becoming an NFL football player. Never 100 percent healthy, Philip’s brief NFL career came to an end in the last cut prior to the 2013 season. While football was an avenue for Philip, it was never what he wanted to define him. His status as one of the most popular players in Auburn history has less to do with his on-field accomplishments, and more to do with his kindness, generosity and dedication to his communities.

On June 29, 2014, Philip was at a farm in LaGrange, GA with friends hanging out and drinking. As the day turned into the night and early morning, a friend of Philip’s decided to make an early-morning run to a nearby gas station for a can of chewing tobacco. There were three other friends in the car and only the front passenger fastened his seatbelt. As the morning drew to past 3 a.m., the four friends left the gas station and headed down the two-lane highway nearing a T-intersection. The posted speed limit was 55 mph, the SUV charged through the intersection, failing to see the posted stop sign, at 77 mph. The SUV flew off the road and into a ditch, most likely causing Philip to smash his head into the roof of the SUV. Philip and the other rear passenger, were not wearing their seatbelts and were thrown from the car and the car continued to travel into the air and off its wheels. Philip landed fifteen feet from the car’s final stopping position. Philip was killed instantly. He was just 23 years old. Though Philip has departed from us in this world, his legacy will never be forgotten.

Philip's Passions


Lutzie 43 works with elementary and middle schools to host a field day for children with special needs. It is important to the foundation to honor Philip’s passion by making a difference in the lives of these children and their mentors. In addition to hosting the field day, the Lutzie 43 Foundation provides bus transportation with wheelchair lifts for the students traveling to the event.


Lutzie 43 supports school proms for students with special needs. The foundation provides schools with funding to cover various expenses for the event. The Lutzie 43 Foundation hopes to expand this program by raising funds to cover all expenses for the proms and by increasing the number of Joy Proms held across the country.

Philip Lutzenkirchen


The Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award is public speaking competition in the School of Communication and Journalism at Auburn University in honor of the late Auburn tight end and communication graduate, Philip Lutzenkirchen. Speaking competitions take place each fall and spring semester and contestants are nominated by their communication classmates. The Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award has a dual purpose: to honor the outstanding work being presented by students as well as to honor the memory and legacy of Philip.


The morning after Mike Lutzenkirchen learned of his son’s death, he set out on a run to clear his head. As he was running, he was struck by the fact that Philip had a platform to impact a large amount of people through the way he lived his life and the mentors who influenced him along the way. After reflecting on his son’s life, Mike created a list of 43 words he felt described Philip.

These 43 words eventually turned into the 43 Lessons to Legacy character development curriculum. The curriculum consists of daily lessons prepared by individuals who were impacted in some way by Philip, including well-known public figures such as Bo Jackson, Gus Malzahn, Tom Rinaldi and Nick Saban as well as close family and friends. The lessons focus on key character words, with each lesson including definitions and quotes along with a story relating the character word to everyday life and a personal touch from the author. Each lesson or day concludes with suggested applications for the student and leader. The curriculum is designed to be flexible for use in many different capacities such as one-day events to seasonal programs for student athletes and young people.


The 43 Lessons to Legacy curriculum is available in hard copy format or online as a PDF. If you are interested in purchasing a either a hard copy or a downloadable PDF of the curriculum, please fill out the online form below and we will contact you!

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