The 26-year-old played football while at Ocoee High and more recently played softball and kickball in West Orange.
If you asked Tyler Felt’s family and friends what he was known for, there wouldn’t be just a single answer. His loved ones recall his open friendliness, contagious smile, endless generosity, happy-go-lucky attitude, hard-working nature and his penchant for line dancing backward at Cowboy’s.
His humor, wit and charm captivated those who had the pleasure of knowing him. He had a goofy demeanor that attracted many, many friends — all of whom have suffered a great loss with his recent passing.
Tyler died August 8 as a result of injuries sustained from a vehicle accident. He was 26 years old. On the day of his funeral, August 14, more than 400 people gathered to mourn his death. To his sisters, the support was overwhelmingly heartwarming.
“We actually had about 250 memorial cards printed for that morning, and we ran out before (some) people got a chance to come in,” Tyler’s younger sister Becca Dotson said. “We had to get another 200 printed for the night so we would have some that night.”
“He had a lot of different types of friends from different areas of his life, and not all of them knew each other,” Tyler’s older sister Sarah Felt said. “These people that came and that were supporting him and that were showing up and mourning him weren’t like acquaintances — he genuinely had relationships with all of these people. … They loved him.”
The love Tyler’s friends have for him has brought many of them together to support his family. His friends created a hashtag in his honor — #FeltStrong — which has been made into shirts, wristbands, decal stickers and cups and has been used as the namesake for various fundraising events in his honor.
One of those events will be the #FeltStrong Fundraiser Men’s & Coed Softball Tournament at 8 a.m. Saturday, August 25 at Braddock Park. The team registration deadline is midnight, August 22. Cost is $225 per team. To register, email [email protected]. The tournament is free to attend, and #FeltStrong t-shirts and wristbands will be sold at the tournament. All proceeds from the fundraisers benefit Tyler’s family.
Felt was a passionate and talented athlete. He played softball and kickball regularly and played baseball football growing up. He started playing football with Pop Warner as a child and played at Ocoee High School. The county boy also loved to fish, hunt and drive his lifted truck down dirt roads.
“He played sports four nights a week, at least,” Dotson said, adding that he also played sports all day on Saturdays. “He played for the Winter Garden league — he played men’s league and coed. He played in a Clermont league, and then he played on a tournament team on Saturdays. And then (he played) kickball with the Winter Garden league.”
“He had so many championships,” Sarah Felt said. “He was so good at the sports. … He won all the time.”
Margie Rivera and Jodi Smith both have known Tyler for about a decade. Rivera played kickball with Tyler and Smith played kickball and softball with him.
“He is definitely the goofiest person we’ve met,” Rivera said. “He could turn anyone into a best friend. Everyone felt like they were Tyler’s best friend.”
“To know Tyler was to love him,” Smith said. “He was a very respectable, loving kid. I mean, I looked at him like my own son.”
Smith said Tyler was always willing to help her husband out with work. She added that she was also his cookie baker.
“I bake cookies all the time and I always saved him his own special bag,” Smith said. “I don’t know who I’m going to make cookies for.”
Alan Campos and Jim Klick both played softball in a Clermont league with Tyler and knew him for about a year. Although they didn’t know Tyler long, his absence is felt.
“There’s already a void in me and I only knew him for a short time,” Campos said. “And I think there’s going to be a void on our team even though we all just kind of met him last (year).”
“He was a presence when he showed up (on the field),” Klick said. “He was a great, young kid. He was fun to be around. … It’s the character that went with him — you can replace a ballplayer that can field any position, but you can’t replace a good character You can’t replace … a personality.”
Smith added, “You can’t replace Tyler Felt.”