Your Story: How Parents Turned Their Grief Over Son’s Death into Foundation to Help Kids Just Like Him

Local News

“Your Story” is a new series from FOX40’s Eric Harryman that explores extraordinary people who have turned the tables on fate and created success stories in unlikely places.

On June 11, 2016, Tanya Bean-Garrett’s world crumbled. Her son, 19-year-old Deston, was murdered inside their Sacramento home.

She and her husband, Herman, were able to rally back from the bottom of the emotional rollercoaster of losing a child to do some remarkable things in their son’s name.

The Garrett home isn’t too hard to find. You’ll hear Herman’s laugh, you’ll smell his barbecue and you’ll feel the love that got the family through the darkest of days.

“My son was murdered three years ago and thanks to God, we were able to get a nonprofit in his name,” Tanya said.

The Garretts began a nonprofit foundation called 21 Reasons.

“21 Reasons comes from Nutter’s number. Nutter was number 21 in football,” Tanya said.

Deston, nicknamed Nutter by his mother, was killed after an argument with a longtime friend became heated.

Tanya says her son’s death took her to a place most people will never see.

“I didn’t like how I was wallowing in that pain,” she said. “I didn’t like the person I was becoming. I was angry.”

Finding a way out meant finding a reason — 21 reasons to be exact — to let others in.

“I asked my higher power, ‘What is my purpose? Why did this happen?'” she told FOX40.

The 21 Reasons are displayed on the wall in the family room. Joy, Tanya says, is what the 21 Reasons Foundation is all about.

“I wanted to be able to say it, feel it and believe it,” Tanya said. “All three.”

Through the foundation, Tanya says she’s living her life in a way her son would be proud of because she is helping kids just like him every day.

“For male or female, athletically prone, who struggles but wants to play football or basketball or soccer or swimming,” she said. “I want to be able to be the one to say, ‘Here. Here’s $500, maybe to start you. Maybe to get you a car to get you to and from college.'”

The scholarships aren’t based on the highest test score or the longest punt return.

“They might not be 3.5, 4.0 students, but they have something to offer,” Tanya said.

The 21 Reasons Foundation aims to offer a helping hand to students who show Deston’s heart.

“I want him to know about the number 21 rule — ‘I got you,'” she said.

For Tanya and Herman, “I got you” means a whole lot more than just words.

“Just to see my wife and her strength, doing what she’s doing, it makes it even that much stronger for me,” Herman said. “When you got a strong backbone like that, you can’t go wrong.”

Submit Your Story below, email or contact Eric Harryman on Facebook or Twitter.


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