ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. -- Vic Beasley Jr. still hurts.
You can hear it in his quivering voice. You can see it in his heavy eyes.
The Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker has done everything possible to remain strong, but the death of his father in April as a result of alcoholism continues to weigh heavily on his heart.
"My dad was sick all last year from the alcohol: cirrhosis," Beasley said. "I thought he would eventually get over it. I just kept the faith. He struggled with it for a while and fought for a long time. It’s just sad to see your dad go. I’m at peace because my dad taught me so much, and I’ll always have memories of what he did for me."
Vic Beasley Sr., who worked for a packing company, died on April 11 at age 53. His liver deteriorated and he experienced a deadly fluid buildup. This first Father’s Day without him makes it that much more difficult for his son, who was the eighth overall draft pick in 2015.
“Yes, it will be tough," Beasley said. "When you lose a loved one, you don’t forget. You’re just thankful for having them with you for the time that you had them with you."
Beasley remembers the days when, as a 5-year-old, he’d run routes through the living room and make leaping catches onto the couch as his father launched passes. He remembers watching college film of his father, who played safety and wide receiver at Auburn from 1982-84, on the same team as Bo Jackson.
"He had two interceptions in the Iron Bowl to seal the victory," Beasley said, referring to the 1983 clash between archrivals Auburn and Alabama.
Vic Beasley Jr. remembers, as a teen, sitting around the house and watching college football games alongside his father. The two also watched the Falcons, the younger Beasley's favorite team as he grew up 60 miles north of Atlanta.
"I just enjoyed being in his presence because we both loved ball," Beasley said. "That’s what I’ll miss most."
As much as he adored his father, Beasley knew that the drinking habit had potential consequences. The elder Beasley's illness kept him from attending any Falcons games last season, when his son was making the transition from Clemson to the pros.
"I encouraged my dad to stop drinking because I wanted him to see me in my career in the NFL," Beasley said. "I wanted him to be there because I just made it to the NFL, and I wanted him to experience the things that God has blessed us with."
The drinking never ceased, however, and the situation became more complicated. During Beasley’s rookie campaign, his father was in and out of the hospital. There were times when Beasley left practice, arrived at the hospital at 4 p.m. and then sat with his father until 11 p.m. He quietly went about his business in the locker room, not wanting to reveal the painful circumstances he had to endure.
"Yeah, it was tough, man, because last year, there were such high expectations for me as a player and I was dealing with the sickness of my dad," said Beasley, who had four sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in 2015, playing in all 16 games. "My mind was everywhere. I was worrying. I just tried to focus on both of those things."
Through it all, Beasley relied on his faith for stability. He’s never ashamed to profess his Christianity, which was instilled in him at an early age. Last spring, as he prepared for the draft, his uncle, Pastor John Beasley, lost a bout with cancer. Beasley turned to God for support.
He follows the same game plan now.
"My faith is everything," Beasley said. "God has strengthened me through the death of my dad. He’s been my armor the whole time, all the time I grew up and my mother taking me to church and stuff. He’s always come through for me. I might not have always done the right thing, but God has always been on my side."
His father succumbing to alcoholism makes Beasley want to speak out against it.
"I would definitely be open to fighting it," he said. "It does take a toll on your body. You might not think about it when you're young, but once you continue to take it in, it catches up with you in the end."
Beasley would have relished having his father at his side Saturday, when he hosted his first football camp at Adairsville (Georgia) High School, the school that both attended. Adairsville head football coach Eric Bishop, an assistant coach during Vic Beasley Jr.'s days at the school, said there was discussion of postponing the camp because of the circumstances and the expected emotions related to Father’s Day.
"I know he was very close to his dad," Bishop said. "I think he did [the camp] kind of in honor of his dad, to have the camp on this weekend. There’s a lot of things that he never says, but if you know Vic and have been around him, he gives things a lot of thought."
Bishop also pointed to Beasley’s adding the "Jr." to the name on the back of his football jersey. It was a decision Beasley made before his final year of college to recognize his father, well before he passed away.
"Because I’m my dad’s seed, and my dad just meant so much to me," Beasley said. "That’s a way I have a chance of honoring him, by putting 'Jr.' on the back. I want to let people know that my dad was a great man."