By LARRY VAUGHT
Some stories you never want to write — and this is one.
Golfer Cullan Brown died Wednesday at age 20 after battling osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in his left thigh for less than a year.
I first met Brown at the 2018 Barbasol Championship when I went to watch Caldwell County’s Emma Talley play in the Pro-Am and Brown and his family also came to Lexington to watch. The families know each other well and Brown, the 2016 state high school campion from Lyon County, looked to Talley both as a role model and friend.
After that, I had a chance to visit with him often and never felt anything but inspired after talking to him. And remember in the 2019 Barbasol Championship he finished 53rd in his first PGA Tour event.
Brown had one of the most unique sense of humor of anybody I’ve ever known. He just had a knack for making you laugh and feel better about yourself. Like when he said the best thing about playing in the Barbasol was the use of a car for a week, preferred parking and speciality dining for him and his family.
Even when he was going through chemotherapy, he never complained. I tried to call and just talk with him or text him fairly frequently. I’ll never forgive myself now because I looked tonight and realized it had been almost four weeks since the last time I reached out to that charming young man just to see how he was and talk about anything from golf to basketball to cooking — and he was a really good cook when it came to putting meat on the grill.
I remember having Talley on a radio show with me a few months back and she talked about her friend.
“We sat on the porch six feet apart. He looks good, but he still needs a lot of prayer. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, he needs your prayers. He is fighting hard. His personality has not changed. But he had to start new chemo. He’s done eight months of chemo now. It has been a tough road and we are hoping he will soon he will be through and be on the other side of it,” Talley said that morning.
Talley said tonight she was “heartbroken” and I think anyone who knew Brown — or even knew of him — would feel the same way. My heart breaks for his parents, Emily and Rodney Brown. My heart breaks for his younger sister, Cathryn, who plays basketball and golf and her brother believed she could be a golf star if she played golf only.
Cullan Brown not only won the state high school title in 2016, but he was second in 2015 and 2017. Three times he won the Kentucky Junior Masters. He won the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship. He helped Team USA win the Evian Junior Cup Championship in France.
His goal was to play on the PGA Tour and Talley had no doubt he had the skills and determination to make it.
That determination never faltered during his battle with cancer. He was also upbeat when I talked to him, even after chemotherapy. I can even remember once he apologized because it took him two days to call me back after he got home from the hospital.
And never once did he fail to call me “Mr. Vaught” no matter how often I told him Larry would be fine. He was just too kind and considerate to say anything but “Mr. Vaught” to someone my age.
Friends said Brown had not been able to talk a lot the last few weeks because of the pain. He fought and fought but his body just could not take this horrible disease any longer.
Yes, I’ve cried tonight. And then cried so more. I am still trying to understand how this could happen to such a talented, charming and kind young man. If you knew him, you loved it. Simple as that.
So just take time to say a prayer for his family for the passing of a young man so many of us loved and admired.