Faith carries Powell through personal tragedy to North Greenville

Former Gamecock speaks at Greer Business Luncheon Tuesday

By Jonathan King,
Published on Saturday, September 20, 2014

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Landon Powell and his wife, Allyson, at North Greenville University announcing the former Gamecock as head baseball coach.

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Landon Powell and his wife, Allyson, at North Greenville University announcing the former Gamecock as head baseball coach.


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Landon Powell, wife, Allyson and son, Holden, 5.

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Landon Powell, wife, Allyson and son, Holden, 5.


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"God gave us grace in a way, because he gave us Izzy’s twin, Ellie. We get to see Ellie every day, and we get to see Izzy in Ellie.”

Landon Powell



Landon Powell said meeting his twin girls on Sept. 10, 2012 was better than catching a perfect game.

Izzy and Ellie Powell were born six weeks premature, but their personalities were strong. Izzy was a spunky fighter, while Ellie was the family drama queen.

“They’d stick a thermometer under her armpit, and Ellie would cry,” Powell said, “whereas Izzy was over there getting transfusions. They’d have a needle stuck in her arm pumping blood into her, and Izzy wasn’t even crying.

“Izzy had very big eyes. It was almost like she could stare through you with her eyes. She was very observant . . . she would always look right at you and make eye contact and really see what you were doing.”

Powell’s wife, Allyson, recalled in a Facebook post, “(Izzy) turned her head slowly and looked me straight in the eyes without making a noise, her eyes wide open . . . she knew there was no reason to cry.”

As the weeks went on, though, it became clear that something wasn’t right. Ellie was growing stronger, but Izzy was becoming sicker. For four weeks, no one knew what was wrong, which was the hardest part for the Powells.

Then came the diagnosis: Izzy had hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH. Her immune system was overactive, attacking her body.

The discovery brought mixed emotions, according to Powell. “Part of us was like, ‘Okay, now at least we know. Now let’s try to deal with it.’” At the same time, Landon felt a strong sense of responsibility to keep Izzy comfortable and give her the best treatment possible.

The next few months the Powells’ life was an emotional hurricane. Landon said of his worse days, “Some days are just depression and anger, and sometimes you’re mad at God and you don’t understand why He does the things he does. And sometimes you’re heartbroken because you’re watching her suffer . . . and you wish you could trade places with her.

“Other times you’re optimistic. You have some good days, some positive things happen, and you have hope.”

Despite the best efforts of Powell and the doctors, Izzy died on Jan. 25, 2013. She was five months old.

Landon said it was his faith in God that got him through this tragedy. “If I didn’t believe those things, there’s no way I probably would have made it through. What other reason do you have to want to get up in the morning when that much has happened in your life?”

Landon’s friends and family were also comforting, reminding him that with God’s help, he could make it through the trial. “They’re on the outside of that storm looking in and they can see how strong you’re being,” Landon said.

Jan McDonald, Athletic Director at North Greenville University, where Landon now coaches, sees his strength in his faith and in his love for his family.

“He left professional baseball to take care of his family,” McDonald said. “It speaks so highly of Landon. Baseball’s just a game, and then you’ve got life and your commitment to your family.”

Landon also realized his loss was not complete. He still had Ellie, who was starting to reflect some of Izzy’s personality and spunkiness. “God gave us grace in a way, because he gave us Izzy’s twin, Ellie. We get to see Ellie every day, and we get to see Izzy in Ellie.”

Landon doesn’t believe Izzy’s brief life was in vain. “God has a plan for everything he does. He was using our daughter in a lot of ways to reach out to others. She was a beacon of light in a lot of ways for Him and His glory.”

Allyson echoed his sentiments, writing on Facebook, “Izzy is and will always be my story. I couldn’t have written a story that good if I tried. I may not like the ending, but it’s not over yet. We will make sure she lives on here on earth, and we will see her beautiful face at the pearly gates of heaven.”

Landon is a recipient of tissue donations as a result of his two ACL surgeries. He also has a rare liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis that will eventually require him to have a liver transplant.  He is a proponent of organ donation and Donate Life South Carolina, and has own charity event ­– Donors on the Diamond.

Most importantly, however, is the time spent with his children, Holden, 5, and Ellie, 2. “They’re both very energetic, they’re funny, they’re athletic,” said Powell.

• Powell at Greer Business Luncheon Tuesday

Landon Powell will speak at the Greer Business Luncheon at Greer First Baptist Church on Tuesday at 11:50 a.m. His topic will be “Dealing with Frustration.” The price of lunch is $7. Call Carole Morris at 877-4253.

Landon Powell’s baseball career

• University of South Carolina, played in 3 consecutive College World Series

• 1st round pick by Oakland Athletics

• Had two RBIs his first at bat in major leagues

• Caught 19th perfect game in baseball history

• Played for Houston Astros and New York Mets

• Inducted into USC Hall of Fame

• Head Baseball Coach at North Greenville University


Donors on the Diamond: Raises funds for Donate Life SC and to raise awareness for organ donation

Donate Life South Carolina



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