Jordan Lewis, Taylor Martinek, Keanon Lowe, Nick Alfieri and Dominique Forrest celebrate a Jesuit Crusaders’ win.
Jordan Lewis, Taylor Martinek, Keanon Lowe, Nick Alfieri and Dominique Forrest celebrate a Jesuit Crusaders’ win.
Jesuit High School’s head football coach, Ken Potter, wasn’t surprised to hear the news about former Jesuit star football player Keanon Lowe, now football and track coach and head of security at Parkrose High School. Lowe tackled a gunman in a Parkrose classroom May 17, probably saving lives. Lowe, who graduated from Jesuit in 2010, had responded to a routine call from the school office and ended up wrestling a shotgun away from the distraught 18-year-old.

“When an emergency arose, Coach Lowe attacked it head on, a truly selfless act that does not surprise me at all,” Potter wrote in a letter to current players.

Brian Martinek wasn’t surprised either. Martinek, formerly police chief of Vancouver, Washington, is father of the late Taylor Martinek, who played football at Jesuit with Lowe.

“He’s a class individual,” said Martinek. “I am glad it ended the way it did. What was shocking was knowing it could have turned out differently.”

Martinek said he is proud of Lowe, and believes that God put him in the right place at the right time for a reason.

Lowe tweeted about the incident. “When confronted with the test the universe presented me with, I didn’t see any other choice but to act. Thank God, I passed. I’ve spent the last 24 hours being more appreciative of my family and realizing we have a serious problem. I’m blessed to be alive and extreme-ly happy that the students are safe. … I want to be a part of the solution to school gun violence. Thank you @PortlandPolice for your help #ParkroseHighSchool.”

In his letter, Potter wrote about how when Lowe started at Jesuit, located in the far southwest of Port-land, he took public transportation from Gresham, east of the city. “Keanon was raised by his single mom, and in all the years I have known Keanon, he has always treated his mom with the utmost respect and love.”

Lowe, while attending a Jesuit summer football camp, was also responsible for his 8-year-old brother, Trey. So Trey came to camp too. “Keanon made sure decisions he made in life would be ones his younger brother could emulate and would make him proud,” wrote Potter.

Potter wrote that Lowe never missed a practice and “continually pushed himself at every opportunity to be the best.”

Trey Lowe would also attend Jesuit; he graduated last year and now plays football with the University of Washington.

Potter wrote that Keanon Lowe exemplifies what a Jesuit football athlete is all about. “I hope you will see him as a role model.”

Potter remembered how, during Lowe’s junior year, there was a big English paper due and he asked Lowe about it. “He told me that he had no worries because he had finished it two weeks earlier and had it proofed by his teacher. That is Keanon, always prepared and doing things ahead of time to be ready.

“This is the message of this letter. I want you to get better and compete. Do not worry about failure, we all fail at some time — but it is how we react to that failure that defines us. Keanon lost many races, was not always the best at his position, did not make it as a player in the NFL, but he has continued to step up and be a ‘man for others.’”

Martinek explained that the reference, “a man for others,” refers to a part of the school’s mission, which reads, “Our hope is that our students develop a profound sense of justice founded in love, i.e., leaders who are ‘men and women for others.’”

Martinek also quoted John Canzano, an Oregonian sports writer, who wrote that Lowe was a hero be-fore the event happened. “Without fanfare or drama,” Martinek said.

Canzano wrote that with Lowe’s resume (he’s worked as an analyst for the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers, as well as at Jesuit as an assistant football coach) he could have chosen to work for a “cushy” suburban high school with a winning record. Instead he chose to work at Parkrose. “When he was hired by Parkrose to take over the football program it was mired in a 23-game losing streak,” Can-zano noted. “I was struck by the fact that Lowe didn’t just take the job — he sounded like a guy who wanted to live it.”

Lowe, Taylor Martinek and Dominique Forrest, all Jesuit football players — and all members of the Metro League’s fall season all-stars in 2009 — were “the three amigos,” recalled Brian Martinek.

Forrest earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Portland and has been teaching at St. Andrew Nativity School in Northeast Portland.

Taylor Martinek, who struggled with addiction after surgery and subsequent painkillers, died of an opi-oid overdose in 2017.

Brian Martinek said he knows Lowe still visits his Taylor’s grave and still feels close to his old friend.

“Taylor was with me every step of the way,” Lowe told Martinek’s daughter about the crisis at Parkrose.