A three-sport athlete at Foothill High, he wasn’t the tallest or most physically imposing kid growing up, but nobody worked harder than Avery Burton. He had the work ethic coaches loved and teammates respected, earning the prestigious White Letter for lettering in three varsity sports in the same year.

Our family was a fixture at FHS tennis, wrestling and track and field practices and events. I don’t remember whose idea it was, but Ann had t-shirts made up that read: Team Burton. We wanted Avery to know we were there to watch and support him.

Avery had natural leadership ability. He was not a talkative or “rah rah” guy. He was a leader by example with a bright smile that took over a room. It was not surprising that he was the starter on the 4×2 relay team that set the school record.

He was the starter, the person responsible for passing the baton first and made sure his team got off to a good start.

He had the unique combination of smarts and passion for fitness. I referred to him as “Intellectual Brutality.” He earned a degree in kinesiology at UNLV, graduating cum laude while working as a lifeguard and licensed personal trainer in the campus recreational center.

“Everyone looked up to him because he was smart and he was always there to provide motivation,” his friends would say.

Now a college graduate, armed with a part-time job at a Henderson physical therapy office, good family life, a healthy social life and plans to apply to the Physical Therapy Program at UNLV to pursue a doctoral degree, the future looked bright for the kid who once sent a snap chat to friends that read, “Call Me Dr. Burton.”

Before he could follow-through on his plans for graduate school, Avery had a major depressive episode that led to his untimely death via suicide.

 Team Burton