Philip Lutzenkirchen was a star football player at Lassiter High School and Auburn University. But 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 died in a tragic single vehicle accident at just 23 years old. Though Philip has departed from us in this world, his legacy will never be forgotten.
The Lutzie 43 Foundation was established in loving memory of Philip Lutzenkirchen, shortly after his death in 2014. The objective of the Foundation is to pass on Philip’s many remarkable characteristics in terms of community service, leadership, and service to others. The Foundation’s motto for young students and athletes is to “Live like Lutz, Love like Lutz, and Learn from Lutz,” reflecting our desire to help others live out the many positive character attributes that Philip displayed, while learning from the circumstances that led to his death.
The Lutzie 43 Foundation aims to develop the character of young people and their influencers by focusing on leadership, charity, compassion, mentorship, hard work, honesty and faith through education and real world application. We are involved in a variety of initiatives targeted to educate young people on character development issues, as well as special projects and events consistent with Philip’s focus on giving back in the communities in which he lived.
A central focus of the Foundation is the development and distribution of “43 Lessons to Legacy,” a curriculum focused on educating young people on positive character attributes. The curriculum, currently being piloted in a number of high schools across the country, is designed to be used by coaches, mentors, and other group leaders with middle school, high school, and college students. It consists of daily lessons focused on key character words. Each lesson includes definitions and quotes, along with a story relating the character word to everyday life. We also include suggested actions for the student and leader associated with each word.
The curriculum is designed to be flexible to be used in many forums, from one day events to off-season (or in season) programs. Participants in the program will be eligible to pursue “Lutzie Scholarships” rewarding individuals displaying outstanding character in their communities. We intend to complete the pilot programs during the fall 2015, and going “live” in early 2016.
In addition to the core curriculum and scholarship program, the Foundation will continue to be selectively involved in various projects and programs, including its annual “13 Can Make a Difference” food drive in Philip’s home community of Cobb County Georgia, the Lutzie 43 Road Race—Powered by FCA, and various other community events and projects. Among our future plans are to re-establish a spring-time prom for special needs children in the Cobb County and nearby communities in the spring of 2016.
Mike Lutzenkirchen, Philip’s father and Executive Director of the Foundation, continues to spread the word through his honest and courageous discussion of Philip’s life: “Philip’s Legacy…What Legacy Are You Leaving?” Mike has spoken to over 100 schools, churches, and other organizations on the importance of good character and decision making.
The Lutzie 43 Foundation is an Alabama Non-Profit Corporation and is also a 501(c)3 entity. All funds contributed to the Foundation will be used to establish and support programs consistent with its mission.
Remaining humble is difficult for anyone, especially during moments of fame and popularity. Philip is a great example of a young person who did not let his success on or off the field get to his head and impact how he interacted with others. With the help of his three sisters, he remained very grounded during his football career and continued to serve others, rather than his own interests. Everyone has the ability to Live Like Lutz by being a servant leader either in the classroom, on a team, in a service organization, or among family and peers. Humility will allow anyone to further their success and gain a lot of supporters.
It is important to identify, and then thank, the people in your life who care about you, encourage you, and support you. It may be a family member, coach, neighbor, friend, or boss, but everyone has someone in their lives who is willing to invest in them, and we must appreciate and take advantage of these individuals. Philip greatly cared about his relationships with God, family, friends, teammates, and his alma maters and was constantly connecting people together. If young people can Love Like Lutz, they will be able to capitalize on the relationships in their lives by identifying role models and mentors who can help them make the best decisions for their future.
It is especially difficult to not feel the pressure to conform in middle school, high school, or college because the culture does not encourage authenticity or uniqueness. Despite this hurdle, Philip is remembered as an extremely real person who always stayed true to who he was. Everyone who interacted with him said that he was very open, honest, and genuine and treated every single person with the same respect. He did not transform into a different version of himself to please anyone. It is important for young people to Live Like Lutz by placing a high value on being authentic and genuine, as it produces trust, which then builds loyalty.
Philip is remembered as vivacious, lively, vibrant and full of life. Although young people face various hardships daily, it is important to encourage them to Live Like Lutz by having a positive outlook each day and remain appreciative of life’s blessings. Even during difficult circumstances, it is important to remember that life is a gift and each day offers new experiences, challenges, and excitement, and it is up to the individual to take full advantage of each one.
Mistakes and failures are inevitable, but many are preventable as well. Young people must Learn from Lutz and the decisions he made, in order to avoid making unnecessary mistakes that can be very costly. Students are faced with many opportunities to learn through their own actions and by watching others. Right now, these young people have the ability to take advantage of the occasions to learn and then make adjustments both personally, scholastically, athletically, or spiritually in order to be in a better place. Unfortunately, Philip did not have this luxury, so the Lutzie 43 Foundation wants to inhibit as many costly decisions from happening to young people as possible through their programs.
Vincent “Bo” Jackson, a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in Family and Child Development, Jackson has served in many successful endeavors beyond his outstanding athletic career. His current roles include the President of Bo Jackson Enterprises and CEO of Bo Jackson Elite Sports, as well as being Director of the Burr Ridge Bank and Trust in Burr Ridge, Illinois. Bo and his daughter got to know Philip during his time at Auburn.
Kim Hudson, JD, a graduate of Auburn University and Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, is a Partner and practicing attorney with Davis, Bingham & Hudson. Kim and her husband, Tim Hudson, also run the Hudson Family Foundation. Kim got to know Philip through his participation in various events associated with the Hudson Family Foundation.
Katie Meier, a graduate of Duke University, serves as the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Miami. Kate is on the Board of Directors of the Kay Yow Foundation. Katie also is Philip’s Aunt.
Bob Penter, CFA, is a graduate of the University of Florida’s MBA program, is a Partner in the investment consulting practice of Aon Corporation, and Director of the Lassiter Foundation. Bob and his family have known Philip since he moved to Marietta in 1997, with Bob’s sons and Philip growing up together as close friends.
Kyle Cooper is founder, president, and CEO of Property Masters and leads growth and operations for the company. He developed Property Masters around quality and reliability with a mission of creating a company focused on client satisfaction and strong business relationships. Since Property Masters’ inception in 1996, Kyle has developed and maintained a reputation as a true leader and entrepreneur. Under Kyle’s leadership Property Masters has grown from a handful of associates in 2004 to over 250 today.
Mike Lutzenkirchen is a graduate of Coe College. Mike serves as Executive Director of the Lutzie 43 Foundation, and is Vice President of Sales and a partner in Club Digi, Inc. Mike and his wife Mary are Philip’s parents.
Amy Lutzenkirchen is a graduate of the University of Georgia. Amy serves as Secretary for the Lutzie 43 Foundation. Amy is the Corporate Operations Manager/Commercial Assets Manager with Perennial Properties. Amy is Philip’s oldest sister.
Bill McLellan is a graduate of Manhattan College, and currently serves as an independent ManagementConsultant in Atlanta, GA. Bill is a former Board Chairman of L.E.A.D., Inc., an Atlanta-based 501c3 charitable organization and is a Founding Member of Getaway2Give (G2G), an Atlanta-based social enterprise that has helped its charity partners raise over $5 million dollars since 2013. Shannon McLellan (Bill and wife Janet’s daughter) was in Philip’s 2009 Lassiter High School graduating class.