When Texas Longhorns freshman wide receiver Joshua Moore stretched his arms in the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger early in the third quarter against the USC Trojans to extend a two-point lead, he was focused on the football, but still carrying a scar that he says will never heal.
That’s because his older brother, Quintin, committed suicide more than five years ago.
So on Monday, it was hardly a surprise to see that Moore dedicated the first touchdown of his college career to his late brother:
That was for you brother, ride with me.... pic.twitter.com/iB6MrLe00j— JoshuaMoore (@_TheJoshuaMoore) September 17, 2018
The 6’1, 170-pounder can’t visit the cemetery before games like he did at Yoakum, but scoring a touchdown in his third collegiate game was surely a suitable substitute for Moore.
Moore lost his older brother on June 13, 2013, Quintin’s 20th birthday. Joshua and his twin brother Jordan, now a safety at Texas A&M, had track practice that morning and were at their grandmother’s house throwing the football around in the backyard when they started to realize that something was wrong.
Everyone was late. Their mother and father weren’t answering their phone. When their grandmother returned home, she had the Moore twins take the groceries she’d bought inside before she broke the news.
“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 told Athlete Nation.
She told them that Quintin had taken his life 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.”
A 6’4, 280-pounder, Quintin was a former Yoakum standout who played at Blinn College and was a member of the Victoria Texans at the time of his death. The Texans were set to play for a state championship the next weekend.
“He was just a great overall guy,” Joshua told the Victoria Advocate in 2016. “He had a great heart. He always put other people before himself and for some people, that’s hard to do. He just wanted the best for anybody. If he knew you, he was going to care for you with anything he had.”
Quintin was a protector, too — when Joshua was attacked by a pit bull, it was Quintin who was there to drive it off with a stick. The impact that Quintin had on his younger brother reverberates across the years.
“I go to bed thinking about him,” Joshua said. “I wake up thinking about him. What can I do to make him proud of me? I approach every single day as he’s still here. At the end of the day, I shake his hand and he tells me, ‘Good job.’”
The recruiting process ended up bringing Moore closer to his late brother. While the talented wide receiver favored Texas early in the process, head coach Tom Herman and his staff didn’t actively recruit Moore after arriving. As a result, Moore committed to Nebraska on the four-year anniversary of his brother’s death.
However, the termination of Mike Riley as the Cornhuskers head coach changed things for Moore. Then Texas re-entered his recruitment by extending a December offer. When Moore ultimately committed to the Longhorns three days before National Signing Day in February, it brought him full circle.
“I just wanted to make a name for myself in my backyard,” Moore said. “My big brother grew up a Texas fan, my mother graduated from Texas, and I had the opportunity to play right away — just being able to stay in my home state.”
Moore still wears a necklace with a silver letter “Q” on it that he never takes off. During the spring, he was already thinking about honoring his brother on the football field at Texas.
“I know he’s watching over, I know he’s proud,” Moore said in the spring. “I’m just ready to go to UT and make a name for myself and carry on his legacy as well while I’m doing it.”
On Saturday, Moore reached a big milestone on that mission.
If you’re considering suicide or self harm, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-8255 — or text HOME to 741741 to speak to a trained Crisis Counselor.