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Lakeway family honors father, son lost in terror attack by giving to future UT athletes

Live happy, live fun, live strong.

Finding a motto that reflects Sean Copeland's personality really wasn't that difficult. In fact, what the Copeland family is learning now is that living "Copeland Strong" reaches far beyond their immediate family.

Freshman Andres Sosa is wasting no time at Texas.

"We're gonna win the national championship," the freshman beamed. "I want to be number 8 up there [in the retired numbers] but you've gotta start somewhere."

Sosa isn't in the starting lineup for his first game on the Forty Acres, but for him, it is his life that is really only just getting started.

"I recently went to my first retreat, and it was meant to be," explained Sosa. "I didn't want to go. But I experienced something amazing--my first encounter with my Lord and Savior and it truly changed my life forever."

Sosa's faith and fate will guide him as Texas opens its season this weekend. The Horns are excited for a new era, and carrying with them an unexpected source of inspiration--from a father and son who bleed burnt orange.

One year ago, Brodie Copeland arrived at Disch-Falk Field ready to fulfill his destiny. Sure, he was only 11 years old, but Brodie knew he'd one day play baseball at Texas. He soaked it in--the pictures, the jerseys, the locker room.

"He had those big eyes when he walked around," his mom Kim said. "Seeing boys lifting weights and seeing the trophies gave him motivation."

What motivated him more - meeting a hometown hero.

"I just remember it like it was yesterday. Brodie seemed like an awesome kid, really driven," said Texas pitcher Connor Mayes. Like Brodie, Mayes played baseball for Hill Country baseball growing up, and lived in Lake Travis.

Last July the Copelands took a family vacation to Europe. After running with the bulls in Pamplona - Sean's bucket list item - and Barcelona, they went to nice for a Bastille Day celebration.

"It was an amazing trip. The five of us don't get opportunity to be together that often," explained Kim. "We were supposed to go to Paris and go to the Eiffel Tower and have dinner."

"We never made it there."

Brodie was getting candy at a candy stand when Sean saw the truck barreling toward them. Despite screaming for everyone to watch out, it was too late.

Sean and Brodie Copeland were two of the 85 victims of the Bastille Day terrorist attack that night in Nice. Kim, Maegan and Austin survived, and stayed overseas for another week before they could return home.

The support is what's helped the Copeland's through tragedy, and now it's how the Texas baseball team will continue to thrive.

"After everything happened everyone wanted to do something for us," said Kim. "I thought it was a perfect match to do baseball and UT."

Together with the Longhorn Foundation, the Copeland's created an endowment to honor Brodie and Sean. The endowment will go to a baseball player that best represents what they symbolize.

"I want it to be someone who has to work hard for what they've accomplished in life," explained Kim. "Someone who will appreciate the story and honor that and be great student and great man in community."

One of Kim's requests: whoever receives the endowment wear the number 8--Brodie's number. Perfectly, that's where faith and fate intervene again.

"I wore 21 freshman and sophomore year [of high school]," said Sosa. I switched to number 8 my junior and senior year. I was 21 all my life, number 8 was just something that came across me in my mind and I changed my number not knowing the reason why."

"Now I know."

Andres Sosa is the recipient of the first Sean and Brodie Copeland Memorial endowment.

"A lot of people call it a coincidence, but I say it's God. I'm big on my faith. That's why I'm here," said Sosa.

When Kim experienced tragic loss, she asked the same question Andres asked when he received new life.

"Is this really what's happening to us?" asked Kim.

"Is this really happening right now?" asked Andres.

They never met, but in Brodie and Sean Copeland's death, Andres Sosa's life was enriched.

Eight times over, you might say.

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