To Dad, From Kelly

To Dad, From Kelly - Final Cover

When Rob Lytle died at age 56, three decades after his football stardom at the University of Michigan ended and his professional career with the Denver Broncos began, his son Kelly Lytle poured his mix of grief, adulation, regret, gratitude, and even criticism into a series of letters to the man he considered his best friend. What began as catharsis evolved into a memoir that starts strong and gains steam the way Rob Lytle did in his dashes down the football field.

To Dad, From Kelly adds dimensions as the author has the insight and candor to peel away the cachet of having a celebrity father and reveal the underside of an all-consuming devotion to a sport. Along the way, Kelly shares his difficulties with keeping sports competition in perspective.

This reflection on an unusually close and complicated father-son bond will be entertaining, poignant, and inspiring for readers who love sports and those who don’t because—although football provides a backdrop—the book is really about family, zeal, and character.

You can purchase your copy of To Dad, From Kelly at any of these locations:

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18 comments

  1. Kelly, I knew your dad, but never met you. I feel connected to you, however, after reading your book. It helped me understand you, Rob and my relationship with my late father. It was ironic that I was at a college football game – Notre Dame vs. Army in New York’s Yankee Stadium – when my son called me about the passing of Rob Lytle. In a small way, I, too, felt that I let your dad down, sitting in the stands at Oregon Clay HS, watching his beloved Little Giants play. Don’t be misled, I wasn’t in his inner circle of great friends; he, was, without a doubt the man with the most cool, and a friend to all. Enjoy being his son! Dennis Blue. Naples, Fl and Port Clinton, Oh. Dennisblue@roadrunner.com.

    1. Dennis – Thank you for the kind note. It is rewarding to hear that my collection of personal stories helped you reflect on your relationship with your late father. In addition to healing myself, another hope of mine with sharing this book was that it would offer meaning to others as they considered their bonds with their fathers and/or children. Thank you for sharing with me, and I’m glad that you enjoyed the book. Thank you for the support.

      1. Kelly, I was really saddened to hear of your dads passing. Although I am a Buckeye fan, I always had great admiration towards your father. you see i view people by how they act not for what school they attended or who they cheered for. You have written an outstanding book and i thank you for it. I believe every person who reads it will benefit from it in some way. I know your Dad is extremely proud of the man you have become. thanks again and Go Bucks 1/12/2014

        1. Hi Alan, thank you for the note and kind words. Appreciate the sentiments – especially from a buckeye fan! It is meaningful to hear that you enjoyed my book and found my small collection of stories memorable. Writing it was a labor of love, and I am honored that the personal stories are able to resonate with others. Thank you for sharing with me and Go Bucks this Monday night!

  2. Hi Kelly. I just found your site and will get your book right away. My wife (MA, 1972) and I (AB, 1971) sat in Sect. 18 during the time you dad played and there was a very large block of fans in that section that would stand up, raise hands in the air, and shout as loud as we could, “Yeah Lytle” every time he took the hand-off and crashed through the line. He was a big star for Michigan and one of my heroes. I was saddened to hear of his passing. But I am so pleased to hear of what a good man you are. I am not surprised given the life lessons he passed along to you. I am so looking forward to reading your book. Go Blue!

    1. Hey! Thank you for the gracious note. I appreciate the support with my memoir and hope that you find the stories in To Dad, From Kelly meaningful. The book is full of sometimes funny and sometimes fun – but always honest – moments with my dad. They will undoubtedly offer you with a more personal glimpse into his life, especially after football. It’s interesting, but many of the qualities that fans admired of Dad – sacrifice, work ethic, commitment – are the virtues that shine through in the stories of our regular interactions. I hope you enjoy and I appreciate the support. As Dad liked to say – If you gotta go. Go blue.

      1. I am so very happy that you, your Mom, your sister, and your entire family enjoyed the enshrinement of your dad into the College Football Hall of Fame. What a thrill!!! I am looking forward to visiting the Hall next spring and seeing his exhibit. All the best to all of you and Go Blue!

        1. Hi John- Thank you. It was a tremendous honor for our family, one full of smiles, laughs, and warm memories. What a humbling tribute to Dad and the way he played football – with his full heart and full passion!

  3. Read a short clip of your book from a Facebook posting and now want to read the entire version. Your dad was my first Michigan football hero when I played high school football. There was something about his style of play, his unselfishness of doing whatever necessary to get the job done that resonated with me. On my first visit to Michigan Stadium I watched him play against Stanford and I was hooked. My son played football for me in college and I see so a lot of relationship similarities between you and your dad and me and my son. Michigan football has always played a role in our relationship and for the most part football created a great bond in our relationship. I am looking forward to reading the book. I am certain your dad would be extremely proud of the man you have become.

    1. Hi Mike – Thank you for the note and for the kind words. It is fun to hear that Dad was your first Michigan football hero (mine came a little later – John Kolesar, Leroy Hoard, Tripp Welbourne!). Dad is certainly revered for his unselfishness and commitment to the team and these are traits that were apparent not just in his football life but in everything he did outside of football. I think the message(s) of To Dad, From Kelly resonate with other fathers and sons because of the way sports can play a role in how that bond forms. It is certainly an honest reflection on my relationship with my dad – and one I hope is meaningful for others as they read. Thank you again, Kelly.

  4. Kelly, I have just stumbled upon this site. Wonderful! I must tell you that when the Broncos drafted your dad, our family was thrilled. Though born in Dayton, Ohio, my folks moved us to Denver when I was merely 6 months old. I met your dad at an autograph signing promotion in 1979, when I was 15. As soon as he saw my last name, he stopped signing, looked up at me with a big grin, patted me on the shoulder, shook my hand, chuckled and said, “Ted you have a great last name. Nice to meet you.” Certainly it was a highlight of my youth. — Now, I have not yet read your book, but I too am a big fan of writing – Earlier that same year in 1979, my mother passed away suddenly. My older sister bought me a journal where I would write thoughts and messages to my mother. I kept it up for many years, even after my own children were born. To this day, it is my most valued treasure, Learning more about my mother intensified again, when I found her college notebook with her hand-written autobiography that she had written for a Psychology course as a 22-year old, the same age as I was when I found it. That experience further inspired me to write about other people that have left an impact on my life, a journal that I hope to pass on to my own children. — That said, our entire family was stunned and saddened to hear of your father’s passing. As bleeding orange Bronco fans,. We have held your father’s Bronco legacy in high regard. In fact I was online looking for retro ‘Rob Lytle-41’ jerseys for our family reunion next summer when I found this site. Now, I will be sure to find your book. — Thanks, Kelly. Peace to you and your family.

  5. Kelly:

    Your dad was my first sports hero. I was 10 when my dad took me to my first Michigan game and we saw your dad break the Wolverine all-time career rushing record. Over the proceeding months I would see him score touchdowns in the Ohio State game, Rose Bowl, and Super Bowl. He is a distinct figure in my childhood and remained an admired individual throughout my life for his achievements and humility. I continued to follow his career from afar, so it was very special for me to meet him so many years later for the first time when he came to my home town to sign autographs. I still had my program from my first game which he signed with a smile and a hand shake. He was exactly how I imagined him…down to earth and approachable. Two weeks later he was gone. I never felt such a punch to the gut from the loss of someone I barely knew. That’s why I was so glad that you wrote your book. It provided the kind of stories that you want to read about your heroes. It hurt me to read in your book that at one time he saw himself as a failure. What your book accomplishes is the message that any parent who takes care of their family and teaches the children lessons in humility and integrity is anything but a failure, but is in fact a hero…especially to those who matter.

    I was always so glad to know that Bo and I both had the same favorite player in your dad.

    Eric

    1. Hi Eric- Thank you for the kind note and for sharing such amazing memories. I appreciate your kind words and reflections on Dad and am struck that you met him just two weeks before he passed. Five years later it’s incredible it happened. You are certainly correct that anyone who teaches others the values of humility and integrity is not a failure but a true hero. It is always nice to receive a note reminding of that fact, so I thank you again for sharing.

  6. Kelly,

    I grew up a Michigan fan and your dad is one of my earliest memories of a particular player that I have. I was very young at that time. I heard all the stories over the years that were written about him in books and newspapers and I knew he had to be a wonderful person, and after reading your book, my thoughts are confirmed. As a parent now, I related with all of the emotions on both sides. I just lost my dad almost 3 years ago and I am trying to be the best parent possible for my son and daughter. Your book opened up new avenues for me in my memories of my dad and what my kids will think of me when I am gone. You were blessed with great memories with your great father. Cherish them forever.
    Your book made me smile, and also had tears in my eyes. Totally loved it and I didn’t put it down till I finished it. My son loves to read so I’m going to let him read this as well. I know he will love it too.

    1. Hi Dave- Thank you for the note. I appreciate your kind words. Dad was a special father, friend, and person…in addition to being darn good at carrying the football. His spark and sense of humor are remembered by so many. I am so sorry to learn of your father’s passing. I hope that you and your family are doing as well as can be. And thank you for sharing that the book was moving to read. It is an incredible reward to hear that others are able to connect with my stories and pull emotions and feelings that resonate in their lives. I am sure that you are making a difference with your kids in ways that you can’t even imagine….it is always the little things that last for so long in our hearts. Thank you again for the kind words.

  7. Hi Kelly , my name is Tony Ruiz . You might remember me as Coach Ru back in your Little Giant playing days. I recently found your written stories and read them all with tons of memories flowing in my head. I am going to purchase the book soon. I am greatly impressed with your writing skills and look forward to reading the book. It was truly a sad day in Fremont with the passing of your father whom I considered a friend during my coaching years at Ross. God bless you and your family and thank you for sharing. Coach Ru

    1. Hey Coach! Certainly remember those days. Appreciate all the compliments. Writing has long been a passion and it’s incredibly rewarding to share stories that connect with others. An absolutely blessing. All of the best to you and your family. Thank you for all the support!

  8. Kelly,
    Thanks for writing the book. The memories will live on forever. I was a senior in high school when your dad was a senior at Michigan. He and Rob used to come to our practices when they could. It was great fun for him to see the coaches push us in the July workouts.
    About 4 years before he died, I asked him to autograph a rookie card. He looked at me and asked me what I wanted his autograph for. He said “What the hell are you going to do with that?!” He said that he was surprised that I still had football cards. He said, and I will never forget, “When you are a kid, they are football cards, when you are an adult, they are pictures of men! Give those to a kid!”
    He didn’t sign the card. I gave them to my nephew the next week.
    I miss your dad, he was full of life!

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