Cody's Gift: Marshall trying to turn his tragedy into triumph for others


(NOTE: This is the second part of a two-part series about Jim Marshall. Yesterday: The Hall of Fame coach has announced his retirement after coaching cross country and track and field the last 38 years. Today: Marshall will keep busy in the days and years ahead, as he's spreading the word about drug abuse through Cody's Gift.)

JEFFERSON CITY ---- It was Christmas, either 2008 or 2009, when Cody Marshall received some North Star Base and American Eagle clothes from his dad. Quality stuff, no doubt.

But then, the clothes started disappearing.

"I remember lecturing Cody," said dad Jim Marshall. "I had noticed that a lot of the nice clothes we'd given him for Christmas gifts were missing. I figured he was just giving them away to other kids, but he was giving them to a homeless guy in town.

"Cody would literally give you the shirt off his back. If he had two shoes, he would give you one so you'd at least have one. He was that type of kid."

Jim was a coach for nearly four decades, but sports weren't for Cody.

"My daughter (Brittanny) was the rough and tumble Tomboy, she was the kid who did all the sports," Jim said. "Cody was more of a soft-hearted kid. Competition was okay, but he wasn't big into those venues.

"He was happy, he was a loving kid, he got along with all types of kids. There were kids with disabilities at his visitation who came because Cody was one of the few kids who high-fived them and paid attention to them."

The visitation for Cody Marshall was held Sept. 29, 2011. Two days earlier, he had died of a heroin overdose.

"Here I am the health educator and the coach," Jim said, "and I didn't see this coming around the corner, or understand what my son was going through. Because I didn't have enough knowledge to understand the signs.

"I kind of knew he was experimenting, but who thinks their kid is doing heroin? Or popping opioids, or Xanax or benzoids? I mean, that's your worse-case scenario in your mind and you're blocking it out. That can't be what he's doing, it's probably the synthetic marijuana or regular marijuana. That's the farthest extent of what I thought was going on.

"I think there's a belief out there with our youth that you can self-medicate away your problems."

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