Blue Valley Southwest team rallies around receiver whose family lost everything in house fire

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Football teams often think of themselves as families.

That love is seen firsthand at one Johnson County, Kan., high school, where one player and his loved ones lost everything they own in a fire.

It was a phone call that sent shockwaves through a family and a football team. Blue Valley Southwest Wide Receiver Justin Wright remembers August 1st, when he and his family were on vacation in Branson, Mo.

Wright says a panicked neighbor made an urgent call to say their Overland Park home was on fire.

When the Wrights arrived home from Branson, they found their home engulfed in flames. The family says the home is a total loss, one that fire investigators blame on an electrical failure.

"It was stained, black, cracked, burnt. It was not a good sight," Wright said on Thursday, while fighting back tears. "That was the hardest part. To know that my home is gone. The place I wanted to grow up and live in."

"It was a panic, definitely. It was a panic kind of worrying. Gut-wrenching, really."

Wright and the other five members of his household needed to move into a rented home. His Timberwolf teammates gave them meals, clothing and emotional support.

"It's a great loss. It's devastating and it feels surreal. The blessings far outweigh everything else. We've been so loved-on my our family, our friends and our school," Kimberly Wright, Justin's mother, said.

For Wright, who has three siblings at home, that support begins with Southwest Football Coach Anthony Orrick, who, along with Wright's teammates, constantly checked on the Wright family during a trying time.

"For a while there, they were living in a hotel. That can be really hurtful," Orrick told FOX 4 News. "He needed some structure and some normalcy in his life. I think that's what we gave him."

Justin Wright says he also appreciates the youth group at his family's church, who have provided spiritual support for the Wrights during the worst time of their lives.

"They're there for me. They're praying for me. It's just something I can't really repay," Justin Wright said.

The Wrights also said the rebuild on their burned living quarters should begin soon. Justin says he may have lost his house, but home is wherever his family is.

Wright and his Blue Valley Southwest Teammates will meet up with St. James Academy on Friday night. That game is set to begin at 7 p.m. at Bonner Springs High School.

The game is being played there because SJA, listed as the home team, does not have its own stadium. We'll have extended coverage of that matchup -- our FOX 4 HyVee Game of the Week -- on Friday evening with sports anchor Jason Lamb.