June 13, 2020

COVID-19 hits close to home to Tashan Reed as he goes through professional transition

Andy Yamashita

Tashan Reed introduced himself to Las Vegas Raiders fans as The Athletic’s new beat writer on April 1.

The next day, his uncle, Carlos Reed, died due to complications with the novel coronavirus and diabetes. He was the second family member Reed had lost in a month.

Gregory Lee Jr., Reed’s mentor and colleague, helped describe Reed’s situation.  

“There was a lot of anxiety during that time for him, given the family situation as well as his professional situation,” said Lee, a senior managing editor for The Athletic. “It was all going on at one time.”

In the midst of family tragedy and a global pandemic, Reed’s move out west from Tallahassee, Florida to Las Vegas to cover his first professional beat has put the 24-year-old in a difficult situation. However, he said the new challenges in his career have helped him cope with the losses in his personal life.

Reed, who spent time in May with his father in St. Louis, has already written more than 24 articles about the Raiders, many about the NFL draft and free agency.

“It’s an emotional time, of course,” Reed said. “I think my default reaction to grief was to kind of work through it.”

Ryan S. Clark, a friend and fellow writer at The Athletic, helped explained:

“It’s come at a really transitional point in his life,” Clark said, “because it’s the balance of knowing you just achieved a professional dream, but you also have to weigh that with some really serious issues.”

After Reed graduated from the University of Missouri in 2018, he spent more than two years on the Florida State football beat for The Athletic, but he felt it was time to move on. A few days after he learned he got the Raiders job, however, Reed received a devastating phone call.

John Reed, another uncle of Reed’s, had died from a heart attack. His funeral was on March 19, and although Reed couldn’t travel back to St. Louis for the funeral because of early coronavirus restrictions, his father, Kenneth Reed Sr., and Carlos Reed did attend. A few weeks later, the brothers began feeling nauseated and recorded fevers.

Kenneth Reed Sr. self-isolated at home. Carlos Reed was checked into a hospital. Both were diagnosed with COVID-19.

“[Reed and his father] have this incredibly close bond,” Clark said. “When his dad was going through COVID, it was something that really wore on him.”

With hospital visits banned, the family had to communicate via video chat. And when Carlos Reed took a turn for the worst, they could only watch. He died April 2 in the hospital.

“You can’t really do anything about it when they’re on the ventilator and what not,” Reed said. “They can’t really speak; they can’t be on the phone. Obviously, with this virus and the nature of it, it’s not like anybody can go visit them. As cold as it sounds, you have to let them be alone.

“And especially when they don’t make it,,” Reed said, “that’s something that you kind of have to carry with you.”

On April 16, Reed’s father tested negative for the virus. Reed’s grandmother Maggie Long, who contracted the coronavirus at her nursing home, also made a full recovery.

Even while dealing with this difficult situation, Lee and Clark both said Reed never doubted the move to Las Vegas.

“He’s someone who just stares at the big picture and says, ‘This is where I need to be,’” Clark said.

So, Reed is all in for the Raiders — and Las Vegas.

“It kind of helped a little bit to have the job change and the draft and free agency to write about,” Reed said, “and kind of keep my mind occupied — kept me busy so I wasn’t just sitting around the house letting it fester.”

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