The fifth anniversary of Kaylan Carter's death transpired while his older brother, DeAndre, was at Training Camp with the Eagles.
Kaylan Carter suffered a heart attack at the age of 17 during while weight training with his high school football team. It turned out Kaylan had an enlarged heart. Kaylan was in a coma on life support for seven weeks before being taken off and passing away shortly afterward.
DeAndre, then a budding wide receiver at Sacramento State, left the team to be with his brother. On his deathbed, DeAndre promised his brother that he was going to make it to the NFL - for both of them.
After being named a unanimous All-Big Sky first-team selection as a senior, Carter was not drafted but signed as a rookie free agent with the Ravens where Joe Douglas was on the personnel staff. He didn't make the active roster in Baltimore but landed on Oakland's practice squad in 2015. Then New England's practice squad in 2016. Then San Francisco's practice squad last season. He's been on the transactions list 15 times over the span of three years since arriving in the NFL.
On Saturday, DeAndre fulfilled that promise he made to his brother.
When head coach Doug Pederson walked to the front of the NovaCare Complex auditorium to kick off the first team meeting of the regular season early Saturday afternoon, he congratulated everyone on making the team. Carter didn't have time to run out and call his family. It was time to prepare for the Atlanta Falcons.
"This is not the end. We're just getting started. We have a very good opponent coming in here on Thursday. We have to be ready to go. Whatever the coach asks me to do, I got to go out there and just do my role. And it's every day," Carter said. "In this league, you got to fight to get in, you got to fight to stay in every day. "
Later in the evening, he was able to let the moment soak in. All of his family members were already aware of the good news thanks to social media.
"It was definitely a sentimental moment for us, for me definitely," Carter said. "It was a good moment for our family."
Carter overcame steep odds to make the Eagles' active roster. The Eagles didn't sign the 5-8, 190-pound receiver until Training Camp had already started. And Carter admitted that the Eagles' wide receiver room was "one of the deepest that I was in."
"I've been around the block a couple of times. I've seen the right way to go about situations like this, coming at the bottom of the depth chart," he said. "I think whether you're at the bottom of the depth chart and top of the depth chart, you have to focus on yourself. Get your job done so we can succeed as a team, collectively."
In the preseason, Carter had 10 catches for 178 yards. His most impressive outing was in the all-important "dress rehearsal" for the regular season against the Browns when he garnered four grabs for 73 yards.
Howie Roseman acknowledged on Saturday evening that he wishes he had been able to see Carter's reaction when he made the team.
"Every day he came to practice and made a play. We went through all his team reps since he's been here, and all his targets since he's been here, and you see the separation. You see the versatility. He can play inside or out, he's strong to the ball. He's got quickness to separate," Roseman said. "He's got straight-line speed. When you looked at his numbers, I mean, he's got a 1.45 10 (10-yard split). He's got incredible speed. The play was really good. He can return punts, as well. So we'll see how he does here as we get started, but certainly deserved the roster spot."
Carter persevered and kept his word to his late brother. But he still isn't satisfied.
"It's not over, yet. I still have to make plays," he said.