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Family and former FIU teammates still trying to cope with the death of Emmanuel Lubin

FIU Football speaks about loss of Emmanuel Lubin

Friends, family and former teammates are still trying to cope with the death of Emmanuel Lubin, who was killed in the early morning hours of July 21, the victim of a one-car crash on the Florida Turnpike.
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Friends, family and former teammates are still trying to cope with the death of Emmanuel Lubin, who was killed in the early morning hours of July 21, the victim of a one-car crash on the Florida Turnpike.

Even now, E.J. Biggers often wakes up in the middle of the night, unable to catch his breath. The days aren’t any easier for him as there are moments when he will think of his baby brother and just break down in tears.

Biggers, who played defensive back in the NFL for eight years, lost his brother, Emmanuel Lubin, in the early morning hours of July 21, the victim of a one-car crash on the Florida Turnpike.

Lubin, who concluded his collegiate career by starting all 13 games last year as an FIU senior cornerback, was just 21.

Sandra Biggers, mother to E.J., 32, and Emmanuel, called her oldest son on that fateful July 21 morning when two officers from Florida Highway Patrol knocked on her door.

E.J. raced to his mom’s house in Pembroke Pines.

“When I got there, there were two patrol officers standing in her living room, and my mom had a blank stare,” Biggers said. “My mom said, ‘Emmanuel was in a car accident. He didn’t make it.’

“I just broke down. I was in total shock. My mom was trying to keep me under control, but she was in her own pain.”

FIU held a memorial service on Friday for Lubin, who was buried on Saturday. He went undrafted by the NFL this year and was set for his career after football, pursuing a degree from FIU in liberal studies and a possible career in physical therapy.

Football didn’t define Lubin … but his smile did.

“’E-man’ was so funny,” said Jeff Bertani, who was Lubin’s coach at North Miami Beach High. “I’m a tough one to make laugh. But he put a smile on everyone’s face no matter how serious the situation.

“He was on track to graduate in December, and he was comfortable with how his football career ended. He knew he wasn’t a star. He never tried to be his brother. He was just an unbelievable young man.”

FIU coach Butch Davis said Lubin will be missed greatly.

“Everyone on this team loved Emmanuel,” Davis said. “He was a great kid. He was a big part of helping to flip this program around with his leadership and his performances on game days. It’s sad.”

FIU middle linebacker Sage Lewis talked to Lubin every day. In fact, the two former teammates spoke just a couple of hours before Lubin passed away.

Biggers said Lubin, who was alone in his car when he died, had gone to a see a boxing show that night, likely the latest Manny Pacquiao fight.

Driving home on the Turnpike near the Northwest 74th Street exit, Lubin lost control of his car, which spun and hit a metal pole that was supporting a traffic sign. Lubin was not wearing a seat belt and died on the scene, according to FHP.

“That was my best friend, my brother, my roommate,” Lewis said of Lubin. “Thank God that He allowed me to talk to [Lubin] one last time.

“This has hurt me to my core. It is what it is, and I have to try to accept it, but it’s a tragic situation. Maybe if he wore his seatbelt, maybe he would still be alive. But who am I to say?”

Biggers has similar questions.

Aside from the panic attacks that now plague him, Biggers said he feels “emotionless,” unsure how to cope.

Biggers, now in his fourth season as NMB’s defensive coordinator, said he is still confused about why Lubin was taken.

“I always tell people that things happen for a reason, but this one I can’t figure out,” Biggers said. “What happened? Why did it happen? I wish I could’ve been there to help him.

“These thoughts go through my head all day, every day.”

Because of their 10-plus-years age difference, Biggers was as much a father figure as he was Lubin’s older brother.

Recently, however, Biggers hung out with Lubin, going to dinner and other places around Miami. Biggers realized then how his brother was seen in the community.

“Everyone knew who he was, and he was so well-respected,” Biggers said. “It was the first time I took a back seat to him, and I was so proud.

“I don’t like the limelight, but E-man never shied away from entertaining people. He was a great dancer. He was funny. He touched so many people. He was better than me at pretty much everything.”

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