Playing for Q: Joshua Moore
Contributor / Will Stone
As Yoakum High School’s Joshua Moore walks off the field, it’s a night well spent and a job well done. Moore, clad in the YHS blue, sporting the number 1, touched the ball just five times on offense, but came away with three touchdowns and 198 yards from scrimmage. They say everything’s bigger in Texas and No. 1 is almost larger than life.
But life means something different to Moore. The concept is priceless in his eyes.
“I was 13 years old when my brother passed,” Moore said.
Moore remembers the morning clearly. It was June 18, 2013, around 9 a.m. when his older-by-a-minute twin brother Jordan and he were throwing the football around in the backyard. It was supposed to be a joyous day for the Moore family, as Joshua’s oldest brother Quintin was celebrating his 20th birthday.
Only the lighthearted mood would soon turn to crippling grief just minutes later.
“My grandma pulled up in the driveway and it was weird because she got off work earlier than usual. She told us to get the groceries out of the car and to bring them inside. I knew something was off because she didn’t sound like her normal self. She sounded sad, like she’d been crying,” Moore said.
After unloading the groceries in the kitchen the boys were called into the living room where their grandmother broke the news that their brother, affectionately called “Q,” had hung himself that morning.
“My grandma doesn’t like to share her emotions, especially not to her grandkids, but she started crying and crying,” Moore said. “Being a 13-year-old, that’s a hard pill to swallow, having to deal with that, being so young. I’d never experienced anything like that before, but it definitely made me mature a lot faster than I would have.”
Suddenly, Moore, already prepping for his freshman year of high school football, the next step towards his dream of playing football for a living, found himself with a much more crowded plate. He and Jordan, out of nowhere, were left as the oldest in the family, with a younger brother and sister looking up to them.
“I knew right away that life was nothing to play with. I knew that I had to step up and be a role model and a leader for my little brother and my little sister. Show them the ropes, show them how important life is,” he said.
For Moore, the unexpected loss of his older brother has led him to further value his younger siblings and to not take their presence for granted. He looks to make the most of their relationship, looking forward to seeing them in the morning before school and at night before bed.
Finding the time to spend with the younger kids isn’t always an easy thing for Moore, who has had to balance school, his high school football career and the subsequent recruiting process. During Moore’s time in high school, 53 schools clamored to get his pledge to play at the next level.
Nebraska originally got his word on June 18, 2017 — four years to the day after that morning in the backyard with Jordan. The video where he announced his commitment to Nebraska was set at Quintin’s grave, a symbolic gesture to mark the completion of the high school phase of the plans that Moore and his brother made together.
He has since backed off his commitment to Nebraska, but will still be pursuing their shared plans to the next level.
“My brother and I had dreams of playing in the NFL, playing at the next level in college. I can say that I have the opportunity to do that, but I also know he doesn’t,” Moore said.
The gravesite has become home to a special pregame ritual for Moore.
“Every Friday, before my football games, I go out to his gravesite and I just sit there. I talk and chat and connect with him before I leave for the game,” he said. “I sit on the little bench by his grave. My uncle’s a singer and he made a song, a tribute to him, and I put all my windows down and play the song from my car and sit on the bench and I just talk to him. I just let my heart spill out. I tell him things I wanted to tell him before he passed. There are so many things I wanted to do with him.”
After the visits, he goes out and plays for his brother. Moore is rarely seen without his yellow bracelet reading “In memory of Quintin,” but when he has to remove it to take the field, “Long Live Q” is scrawled on his wrist tape — yet another way of Moore keeping his departed brother a part of his life.
Even from Moore’s geographically closest finalist school, Texas, to Yoakum and Quintin’s resting place is about 90 miles, meaning Moore may not be making it back to the gravesite to have his weekly pregame chats. He knows it’ll be a strange transition, but he also knows that he can’t take Quintin’s grave to the next level with him. Instead, he’ll continue to wear the bracelet and wrist tape to honor his brother as he works his way towards achieving the dreams they dreamed growing up.