Justin Lloyd, who’s public battle with cancer inspired Union College baseball teammates and coaches and larger communities in the Capital Region and his native Massachusetts, has died. He was 23.
“Justin Lloyd is my hero,” Paul Mound, head coach of the Union Dutchmen, said in a statement. “He lived his life with class and determination. He was an inspiration to many of us and we were blessed to have him as a friend and teammate.”
Lloyd died on Aug. 3.
“Justin touched the lives of every person he met,” said Kent Curran, a teammate of Lloyd’s at Union. “He was the bravest person I know and he gave inspiration to myself and the rest of Union’s campus every day with his extremely positive approach to life. He wasn’t just our teammate; he was our brother. Justin’s contagious smile and laugh will be deeply missed by all of us.”
Lloyd was less gushing about himself last year: “I would describe myself as coachable.” His father, Kenneth Lloyd, translated that into “easily the most resilient, hardest-working and toughest kid I have ever met.”
Before his freshman season with the baseball team got underway, Lloyd fell ill and received his colorectal cancer diagnosis in the early months of 2013. The Milton, Mass., native’s condition required surgery and six months of chemotherapy, sidelining him for the entire 2013 season.
Lloyd returned to the field for the Dutchmen the following year, appearing in 10 games and starting two.
“It had been a goal my entire life to play college baseball,” Justin Lloyd later told The Daily Gazette in a May 2016 profile story.
That season, Lloyd’s return is credited with inspiring the Dutchmen to a Liberty League title and a berth in the NCAA tournament. However, Lloyd’s cancer had returned in the midst of the spring season. Lloyd had returned home.
After taking the following fall semester off from school to go through more chemotherapy, Lloyd transferred to Boston College ahead of its second semester in order to be closer to his family.
“It became too difficult to manage three hours away,” Justin's father said last year of the decision to transfer. “Now he’s 20 minutes from home and 20 minutes from the hospital.”
Since Lloyd left Union, his former teammates have put on numerous fundraisers in order to raise funds for cancer research. At one time, the Dutchmen were selling bracelets with the tagline, “Lloydstrong,” on them. The team also hosts the annual Just Out Home Run Derby fundraiser on Union’s campus every spring in honor of Lloyd. Lloydstrong athletic shirts were sold at what would have been Lloyd’s senior day for the Union Dutchmen in 2016, where Lloyd was honored along with the rest of the senior class.
The Rise Above It Award, named after Lloyd’s catchphrase throughout his battle, was first bestowed in Lloyd’s honor at the 2016 senior, day and is given annually to the Dutchman who most exemplifies Lloyd’s determination and character on and off the field.
In addition to his father, Lloyd is survived by his mother, Jeanne Lloyd of Milton, Mass., and brothers Jonathan Lloyd of Cambridge, Mass., and Jared Lloyd of South Boston.