Gilbert Price must have heard the knocking at his door. He should have been aware of the outpouring of support. He had to know that people wanted to help.
Victoria Advocate File Photo
But Price wanted no part of it. He had withdrawn from the world he had known for so long.
Price understood he made a serious mistake and was lucky to be alive, but he left friends and family wondering just what kind of life had he chosen to live.
It's safe to say no one who knew Price could see this coming.
His track record offered no clue. Price grew up in Shiner where he succeeded academically, athletically and socially. He became the starting quarterback as a sophomore and by the time he graduated had led the Comanches to a 38-3-2 record that included three playoff appearances.
Price was almost flawless as a senior when Shiner went 16-0 and won the Class 2A state championship in 1986.
Price is held in such high esteem in his hometown - he is still known to most people by his first name - that current quarterback Garet Pustka says it was "a great compliment" when someone compared him to Price.
Calvin Tucker, who coached Price in high school, calls him "the most studious quarterback I've ever coached," and says he was the best at making "split-second decisions."
Price earned a scholarship to Southwest Texas State and started at quarterback for two seasons under coach Dennis Franchione.
Price had an opportunity to coach under Franchione, but he wanted to work on the high school level and he secured a job at Yoakum Junior High less than a week after he graduated from college.
Price soon moved to the varsity level when he joined Mike Treybig's staff at Industrial. He left for jobs at Refugio and Corpus Christi Carroll before rejoining Treybig at Sweeny.
It seemed only a matter of time before Price became a head coach, but everything changed during the early morning hours of a Thursday in November of 2001.
Price was driving back to Sweeny from a friend's house in Lake Jackson. Price says he wasn't feeling well, but was anxious to get back home, so he could help the team prepare for its bi-district playoff game.
Price admits he had "a couple of drinks" the previous night and says he taken some medication, including Sudafed and Nyquil, which contains alcohol.
Price was nearing Sweeny when he came upon a turn that Treybig says, "will eat your lunch," and has been the site of numerous accidents.
What happened next is open to interpretation. Price recalls seeing an oncoming vehicle edging into his lane and says he attempted to move to the side of the road before overcorrecting and coming back toward the center of the road. The result was a head-on collision.
Price regained consciousness and was able to exit his vehicle just before it exploded. He suffered numerous injuries, including a broken bone in his hip, and the occupants of the other vehicle were also injured.
Price was hospitalized in Lake Jackson before being transferred to Houston, where he underwent surgery and had a pin placed in the broken bone.
But Price's injuries were the least of his problems. Charges were filed in April of 2002 and he would eventually plead guilty to intoxicated assault, a third-degree felony, and was sentenced to five years of probation and fined $800.
As a result of the plea, Price was forced to give up his teaching certificate, which cost him his coaching job. Those who knew Price were not only taken aback by the accident, but with his reaction to it.
It was if he was consumed with shame. Price rarely left his residence and he refused virtually every offer of help. It was almost if every thing he had accomplished was forgotten.
Price insists he never became suicidal, but admits he shut himself off from the rest of the world. Most of all he shunned friends and family in Shiner, many, who to this day, don't know what happened.
"The people closest to me were the people I hurt the most," Price says. "I neglected my family and friends. I didn't even tell my best friend."
Treybig remembers people telling him they went to Price's residence and got no response when they knocked on the door even though they could hear sound coming from the television inside.
People cooked dinners for Price that he never ate, and he refused virtually any offer of financial assistance.
"Gilbert is such a prideful type person," Treybig says. "I know he doesn't want anybody to be disappointed in him. I think that's why he never went to Shiner."
Price's reclusive behavior nearly landed him in jail. He moved from Sweeny to Bay City without notifying the court and almost had his probation revoked.
Perhaps it was the threat of going to jail that hit Price like a slap to the face.
"I had to decide which way I wanted to go with my life," says the 34-year-old Price.
He returned to his Shiner home last month and has slowly begun reaching out to people.
He traveled to Round Rock for Shiner's semifinal game last weekend and plans to be in Waco on Saturday when the Comanches play for their first state championship since he was the quarterback.
He hopes to get his teaching certificate back and return to coaching when he completes his probation, which he vows to do successfully.
"If the opportunity ever arises and I was anyplace but here, I'd hire him again," Treybig says. "He's a great person and great for the kids. The kids love him and the adults love him. He made an error. He made a split-second error in driving and it's cost him everything he's ever known."
Price is beginning to recognize that the one thing his mistake didn't take away from him was the support of the people who love and care for him, and for that, he's grateful.
"I guess everybody is going to know now," Price says. "But that's all right. I shouldn't have done what I did. But I've got to move on."