Taylor Rhodes, Jr.

Taylor Rhodes, Jr.

Honest, authentic, vulnerable, brave, LOVED

“Taylor was a bright light in this world,” his mother, Kerri, stated. He was an honor student, a born leader, and loved sports, especially basketball, golf, and tennis. He had a heart for children and never met a dog he didn’t love. Being sensitive, he felt deeply. “He was the big personality in the family,” his dad, Taylor Sr. said.

“He was fearless,” his sister, Blair, said. Taylor often bragged about Blair’s scholarly and athletic achievements and was proud when she earned a softball scholarship to Elon University. He often proudly wore his Elon sweatshirt. His girlfriend, Mica, was the light in his life. They met in high school, and she was there through some dark times. “I am so grateful he found a love like that,” his mom said. “Some people live a lifetime and never love like that.”

Taylor was passionate about his family and friends. He loved family traditions. Christmas was Taylor’s favorite, the family went to Christmas eve service, had dinner together, watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in their pj’s eating Christmas cookies.

Taylor’s struggle with addiction began in his sophomore year of high school after a shoulder injury while playing tennis. He was given opioids to manage his pain, which flipped a switch in his brain. He told his parents later, “those opioids made my brain feel “normal” for the first time”. Taylor’s brain chased that normal for the next four years,’ his mom said. With a lot of help from amazing teachers and his parents, Taylor graduated from high school and went to college, but he quickly went off the rails. He eventually landed in a collegiate recovery program in North Carolina and his real recovery began. He was in the recovery program for six months, but there was no step down available and his family let him try taking classes at NC State. That decision proved to be a mistake, and Taylor relapsed within weeks of leaving his collegiate recovery program, accidentally overdosing on heroin laced with fentanyl.

“The outpouring of love after Taylor died was incredible,” his mom said. Taylor was an advocate for better treatment for SUD and helped others in their recovery. His family is continuing his legacy by using their story to increase awareness of non-opioid pain management options and to help healthcare professionals be more aware of the risk prescribing opioids in 90% of all surgeries pose. Kerri advocates and speaks to end stigma and change the way we treat addiction and mental health in this country. Blair and Kerri are featured in a speaker series for Shatterproof on the importance of non-opioid pain management options. Blair interned for Voices for Non-Opioid Choices and works to honor her brother. “Taylor taught us the meaning of true courage,” Kerri said. “He made me a better, more compassionate, and kinder person.”

His family misses the everyday moments with Taylor most: bad rap music blaring from his room, cooking together in the kitchen, stories at the dinner table laughing until their sides hurt. Kerri misses cleaning up snacks and drinks from his bedside table, nagging him to get a haircut, and the way he said “mom”. “I miss all 6’5” of him, but I am grateful for every moment of the twenty years and twelve days I got to be his mom”, she said. “I learned so much from his life and his death, at his core, he was simply love.” Taylor had a tattoo that said,” if you think it’s hard to watch, imagine how hard it is to live.” Kerri stated, “It’s important for all of us to remember the beautiful people that struggle with this disease.”

Taylor’s mom, Kerri Rhodes, dad, Taylor Rhodes Sr., and sister, Blair Rhodes, provided the information for this narrative.

June 17, 1999-June 29, 2019

Age 20-Battled the disease of addiction 4 years.

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