Kentwood High School athlete moves forward after tragedy
Mike Roy's life changed forever when the Kentwood High School athlete found his mother, Krissy, dead in August 2008. Aftter 18 months of upheaval, he is still fighting for his future — and keeping Mom updated on all his dreams.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Contributions to be the Mike Roy Scholarship Fund can be made to any Bank of America branch.
"Hi, Mom. I scored my first varsity touchdown tonight. I wish you'd been there."
BLACK DIAMOND — Every day, Mike Roy talks to his mom. Every day, he misses her. Oh, how he misses her.
Krissy's picture hangs over his bed, which has moved all over the place the last year and a half.
Through his sophomore year at Kentwood High School, Mike had known only one home, one he shared with just his mom since sister Kim had moved out a few years earlier. Mike was just in grade school when Krissy and his dad divorced.
Money was tight, but Krissy always made sure there was food in the fridge and decent clothes on Mike's back, sewing holes in her own. He was excited about his junior year of football, and she couldn't wait to sit in the stands again. Not that she ever actually sat. She jumped up and down and screamed and tried to take pictures while describing his every move over the phone, wearing her Kentwood sweat shirt pinned with Mike's photo button and a green ribbon in her hair.
But life changed dramatically for Mike Roy on Aug. 19, 2008, the day before football turnouts. That's the morning he discovered Krissy dead on her bedroom floor after an accidental combination of antidepressants, diet pills and alcohol consumed the night before proved lethal. Mike lost his biggest fan and all sense of normalcy, but he didn't lose the qualities his mom instilled in him.
"He's gone through more stuff than 99 percent of high-schoolers should ever have to go through," said Steve Roche, Mike's track and field coach at Kentwood. "There's a lot to be said that he didn't quit on life."
"Hi, Mom. They elected me captain of the football team today. Wish you were here."
Everything seemed much simpler back then. Mike and Krissy had been excited about that August morning in 2008. She took a rare day off from work to help him get his driver's license and shop for school clothes. It was a happy time for Krissy, who had lost 20 pounds and gained a new boyfriend.
Mike's girlfriend was over and he was supposed to let Krissy know when it was time to get ready. But when he went to wake her, she didn't move.
She was dead.
"What do I do? What do I do?" he yelled to his girlfriend.
She called the police, then Mike called his sister, Kim, who turned a 20-minute drive into a five-minute dash.
Mike doesn't remember a lot about that day, except that he stayed in his bedroom as much as he could.
"The whole day went by so slow," he said.
"Hi, Mom. I got accepted at Central today. I'm gonna go to college and make you proud. Wish you were here."
Mike now lives with Kim and Ephraim, both 25 and married less than a year. Just last week, they moved into a new Black Diamond home, Mike's fourth move in a turbulent year and a half.
Kim Roy is six years older than Mike, and the two had what Mike called a "love/hate" relationship growing up, like many siblings do.
"He was this really annoying little brother," Kim said.
She had just been accepted into the police academy, something Krissy was both nervous and proud about, and had gotten engaged to her high-school sweetheart. Kim and Krissy were forging a new, special relationship, the kind that evolves from mother/daughter to best of friends, and they were constantly on the phone together.
Suddenly, Mike became Kim's first priority.
There were hundreds of details. He needed school clothes, and anything for football? She needed legal guardianship to make sure he had insurance, and then there was his driver's license.
"I inherited two dogs, a three-bedroom house and a teenager," Kim said.
Coach Rex Norris showed up at Mike and Krissy's home within hours of hearing about her death and assured Kim that football should be the last thing they needed to worry about.
"Mike wasn't having it," Kim said.
The next day, he was on the football field. With his mom gone, it felt like the closest thing he had to home.
"I didn't have a lot of family and I felt like Kentwood's like my family," Mike, noting he considers assistant coach Kurt Phelps a father figure. "And when I go to practice, I could focus and not think. It just totally made me forget about life. It was just something to make me forget about the pain, instead of turning to other things."
Other things, like maybe alcohol or drugs. Krissy Roy didn't raise her son like that, and Kim Roy — sister now turned guardian — wouldn't have put up with it anyway.
"Everybody is sitting back and waiting for some catastrophe to kick in, so I am not afraid to say, 'No,' grab him by the shirt and say, 'You're going this way,' " Kim said.
Krissy was the kind of mom who let her kids learn from their mistakes. Kim, now a patrol officer, has strict rules to make sure Mike doesn't make any big ones. It hasn't been an easy adjustment.
"I don't have mom any more and I don't want another mom," Mike admits. "I just want a sister and I don't have that anymore. ... We've both got that Roy stubbornness, and we clash and have those arguments like we would when we were little.
"It's a bad time for it to happen, but in the end we love each other and we just make do with what we've got."
"Hi, Mom. I'll be graduating soon. Another big day that won't be the same without you. Wish you were here."
After Krissy's death, Mike stayed with an uncle for two weeks while Kim and Ephraim moved to a bigger apartment. Finances were a mess. Krissy's house went into foreclosure, and her car was repossessed.
Kim used her small inheritance for her wedding and put Mike's away. It wasn't much, but it could help for his future, which now includes college, something Mike never really thought about before their mom died. He recently was accepted at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where he is an invited walk-on for football.
Mike, who pinned Kim's badge the day she graduated from the police academy, now plans to follow his sister into law enforcement. Kim worries how they will pay for college. His inheritance will be gone after his first year of college, and just last week she opened the Mike Roy Scholarship Fund at Bank of America.
Mike looks forward to his high-school graduation, but thinks how it will be another special day his mom has to miss.
"I think about her all the time, and with everything I do," he said. "I have a picture of her above my bed and I always talk to her. That might sound stupid, but I do that all the time. She's always on my mind, all the time, every day."
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