Four years ago, Estella Floyd’s kidney’s were failing. She needed a transplant and her son, B.C. Lions defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy, volunteered to donate one of his.
“I said ‘I’ll give it to you, football isn’t that important,’” says Purifoy, who was in college at the time. “But she said no.”
A donor was found in 2015 but Floyd’s health troubles have continued, including a heart condition that limits her ability to fly. She’s never seen her son, now in his second year with the Lions, play live in a professional game.
Concern for his mother’s well-being has taken its toll on Purifoy, who often turns to Lions’ defensive coordinator Mark Washington for support. During a particularly bad stretch last season – Floyd had congestive failure – Washington helped his young player cope with the stress while continuing to prepare for football. Their relationship is much more than just player-coach.
“That’s the closest father figure I got right there,” Purifoy says. “He was there, praying for me.”
That bond has translated into a level of trust that extends to football as well.
As a first-year CFLer, Purifoy started 18 games and played well at the strong-side linebacker position, recording 43 tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception to go with one defensive touchdown. Coming into training camp in 2017, it seemed as if Purifoy would keep that same spot, but as Chandler Fenner consistently made plays and impressed coaches, the Lions wanted to get both players on the field at the same time. So Washington and Buono made the decision to move Purifoy back to safety just days before the season was set to start.
“I wanted to get Loucheiz in a position where he could make more plays for us,” Buono says.
Purifoy believes he can be more versatile than just moving around to different spots in the defensive backfield. He played running back and receiver while at the University of Florida.
“Yes [he’s lobbied to play offence] – running back, I said just get me an interception first and then I’ll think about it,” Buono says. “It might happen. Garney Henley, remember? The great Garney Henley.”
His defensive coordinator agrees and says that an interception on defence will help his case to be used on offence.
“If Khari [Jones] needs him, so be it, but trust me we’re loaded on that side too,” Washington says.
Clearly, Purifoy is a special athlete, Washington believes he has NFL talent, size and speed, and that possibility is in the back of his mind.
Meanwhile, Floyd still struggles with health concerns but she’s staying with family and that’s allowed Purifoy to ease his mind and focus on football.
“She watches on ESPN,” Purifoy says. “She’s just happy that I get to do what I love to do.”