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Ohio State center Josh Myers to wear No. 50 against Indiana to honor late grandfather

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

Before each season, Ohio State center Josh Myers receives a letter from his grandmother.

It offers him words of encouragement and includes a cut-out square piece of the high school jersey worn by his late grandfather at Miamisburg.

He places the small bit of fabric in one of his socks during games, a personal ritual for the offensive lineman.

Ohio State center Josh Myers warms up before Saturday's game against Indiana in a No. 50 jersey to honor his late grandfather.

A new family tradition formed in Saturday’s game against Indiana. Myers wore No. 50, switching from his No. 71 uniform number, in honor of his grandfather, as well as in tribute to his grandmother who has been supportive of his career.

His grandfather, Donnie, died in 2009 from Alzheimer’s disease. His grandmother, Beverly, has been a frequent attendee at games.

“I'm extremely close to both of them,” Myers said. “They're the type of grandparents that never missed a sporting event. My grandma is 78 years old, and all season the last couple of years would go and watch my cousins play in Miamisburg on Friday night, and then turn around and go to my game in Columbus or sometimes even away games, wherever they may be.

“And she would do it every weekend. She's just the sweetest, kindest old lady you could ever meet. My relationship with them has been incredible, as good of a relationship as I could have. I love them both so much.”

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Myers planned to make the jersey switch against the Hoosiers as the second-to-last home game this season, hoping his grandmother would be more likely to be in the stands at Ohio Stadium.

But the plan was partly disrupted earlier this week when Ohio State decided against allowing families to attend games for four weeks following a new health advisory put in place in Columbus amid rising coronavirus cases in the region.

“I wanted it to be a one-time thing that's really cool that my grandma can have as a memory,” Myers said.

He will wear No. 71 for the rest of the season, a number that also has family significance. His father, Brad, wore it when he was an offensive lineman at Kentucky.

The idea for a one-game jersey switch originated earlier this year.

While cleaning the bedroom at his house near campus, he found the box that has stored the bits of his grandfather’s high school, along with letters from his grandmother and other family pictures.

Ohio State Buckeyes center Josh Myers (71) poses for a portrait on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

“I was just looking at the picture of my grandpa wearing the number 50,” Myers said, “and then I was looking at the jersey, and the idea just came to me.”

The significance of the tribute from Myers has grown in recent months.

Due to precautions by the team in order to avoid potential transmission of COVID-19, players have often avoided visiting with their family in person, as well as other close friends.

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Myers said he hasn’t seen his parents or other family members after games this season. He speaks frequently with them over the phone, but playing through a pandemic has come with significant sacrifices.

By carrying the No. 50 on his uniform on Saturday afternoon, he hopes it will leave his family with memorable feelings.

“I've been so fortunate to have the family that I have,” he said. “Just to incredibly loving and caring people.”

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman