Ed LampittThe program's first-ever placer at a Big Eight Tournament, Lampitt was one of the program's most successful wrestlers during its early years. While his performance on the mat alone was enough to rank him among the program's all-time greats, it is what he did following his graduation from Mizzou that cemented his status as a recipient of the Wrestling Medal of Courage from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Lampitt came to Mizzou in the fall of 1965. After growing up in Western Illinois, Lampitt and his family moved to St. Charles, Mo., for his final two years of high school. Lampitt had a scholarship wrestling offer from Illinois, but the draw of Mizzou was too much for him to pass up. So, he walked onto the wrestling team during his first year on campus.
It took one year for Coach Hap Whitney to realize how important Lampitt was to the team. As a sophomore, he was put on scholarship, a moment of pride for the St. Charles native.
The rest was history for the four-year letterwinner who captained Mizzou's 1968 team that put together the first undefeated season in program history. He set school records that stood for years and was the program's first Big Eight champion and the first ever wrestler to qualify for the NCAA Championships. He chose not to go to the meet - because he didn't want to participate without his teammates.
Lampitt graduated from Mizzou with his degree in civil engineering in 1969 and married the love of his life, Katie, on July 4 the following year.
But his journey was just getting started. As many men his age did during the 1970s, Lampitt joined the United States Navy and served in the Vietnam War - first in flight training and then in Navy's Civil Engineering Crop after hearing loss forced him out of flight school. He still learned to fly, a skill he carried with him until about five years ago when he stopped flying.
Following his time in the service, Lampitt began to practice dentistry, a skill he first started practicing with the Navy before then opening his own practice. Married, out of the war and now running his own dentistry practice, Lampitt seemingly was settling into the next chapter of his life nicely. That was until his life got turned upside down by news that no one expects to hear; he had an acoustic neuroma. A brain tumor.
Lampitt was 32 years old with so many years ahead of him. He had three young children, all under the age of seven. He had a life he had always imagined. Then came a life-altering diagnosis - he had a brain tumor growing aggressively, one that would require emergency surgery to remove. The brain tumor was discovered in 1979 while Lampitt was in the Navy as a dentist.
The tumor took two 14-hour surgeries to remove and while doctors were able to remove the tumor, the surgery had rendered him completely paralyzed, unable to speak, and blind in one eye. With three young children, a promising dentistry career and years of competing as a high-level athlete, Lampitt's life as he knew it had changed forever.
But instead of letting his situation define him and settle for the hand that life dealt him, Lampitt attacked his predicament with some of the same lessons he learned as a student-athlete at Mizzou.
At first, progress was slow, but he kept working on his rehabilitation. He refused to accept his circumstances.
He began to move and speak. Moving and speaking turned into walking and talking. Walking and talking helped him get back to practicing dentistry. Practicing dentistry led to him learning how to fly again - he even earned his private pilot's license. His hard work and dedication had paid off.
Over the course of 24 months he had gone from someone who may never walk again, to living much of his life the way he had prior to the tumor. He still was paralyzed in his left arm, and blind in his left eye, but he did not let the tumor define him. It took two years of recovery before he received a medical discharge from the Navy, returned to Missouri and opened his own dental practice in Piedmont, Mo.
In 2003, Lampitt was honored by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame with the organization's most prestigious award: Wrestling's Medal of Courage.
The award is given annually to a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. For Lampitt - the Total Tiger himself - no challenge was insurmountable.
Dr. Lampitt went on to work for a dental pharmaceutical company and as a motivational speaker, dealing with topics such as how to treat the handicapped, to dealing with life crises, to achieving success in athletics. He had his own dental practice in his hometown of Perryville, Mo. He appeared on television talk shows as well as live call-in radio shows. He entertained audiences from coast to coast with his wonderful wit and positive perspective.
Truly a Total Tiger.
All during his life, Lampitt stayed connected with Mizzou. He helped raise the money for wrestling's new fourth-floor Hearnes training facility. The cardio stations in the facility don his name. Lampitt and his wife Katie are lifelong Mizzou fans, even after moving to California where they played the fight song so their kids could learn the traditions.
All three of Ed and Katie's children attended Mizzou -- including their two daughters who participated on the swim team. He was active in the Mizzou Letterwinner's Club as a member of the Board of Directors and was a fixture at so many great events over the years.
When Ed and Katie moved back to Missouri, he became very involved with the wrestling program. His Total Tiger Award at the year-end banquet was his way of inspiring those around him, those following in his footsteps in the wrestling program.
So every year, when a wrestler walks across the podium to accept the award, it is easy to see why the award is held in such high regard by the recipients. It personifies what made Lampitt so great: determination, perseverance, reverence, and pride. Those are characteristics of a Total Tiger. Those are traits of those who are #MizzouMade.
The thoughts and prayers from the entire Mizzou Athletics family are with the Lampitt family today.
Below is a statement from head wrestling coach Brian Smith:
"During this past summer in mid-June, I was fortunate to have some close friends and impactful people in my life with me at the Don Faurot award ceremony. I remember speaking and reading a quote from a book called The Last Arrow:
'We do not help the world by choosing to be less or do less; we help the world by choosing to be more and give more.'
I remember looking at the people who were there for me that day and many times throughout my career and life. One person who I was so grateful to have there was Ed Lampitt. Ed was very sick that May and was sent home to be put in hospice care. Six weeks later he found a way to come be with me at this event. It meant the world to me and most of my talk that day was about living and the people you choose to do it with. When you find your people; the people who lift you up and believe in you, you will never walk alone. Ed Lampitt has been that for me in my time at Mizzou.
From breakfast time each month with him and Coach Whitney, to inspiring my team at practice each year. He was at every one of our year-end banquets and loved to get up and present his award. Just yesterday, I sent him the graphic and bio of the young man who would receive his award, not knowing this morning he would pass. It breaks my heart and my prayers go out to all of his amazing family. Ed's spirit and the way he lived his life will always be a part of this great program. Ed chose to be more and give more."