Friends help Coy Featherston get back on his feet

Ex-King football star adjusting to normal life after years on the streets
Coy Featherston 2
Posted at 11:10 PM, Nov 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-29 00:26:35-05

AUSTIN, Texas — Coy Featherston was a name Corpus Christi residents heard quite often in the early 1970's.

He was a King High School football team starter, voted Best Boy in his graduating class and was on-track to play football for the legendary Darrell K. Royal at the University of Texas at Austin.

Featherston was living the life many only dream of having, but it wasn't the one he wanted.

He dropped out of UT shortly after enrolling, leaving his family disappointed.

"They felt like I had sullied the family name," he said.

Featherston then hit the road working for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Frank Zappa, carrying his equipment on tour. He did this for years, until he wound up in Atlanta looking for work once again.

It was there his luck began to run out.

"I lost all of my possessions," he said. "My family wouldn't help me with my storage unit."

Soon, things went from bad to worse. Featherston found himself living on the streets, and in 1996, he was back Texas. He spent the next 18 years living rough on Austin's Drag alongside the place that had originally brought him there so long ago.

"I had sleeping bags all over me," he said. "I had three or four sleeping bags, four or five sweaters."

Featherston had been used to his situation; all his belongings in his shopping cart as he lived on the drag, normally finding shelter at the parking garage behind the St. Austin Catholic Church. His outlook remained bleak.

"I was nearly at a breaking point," he said.

Thankfully, that breaking point never arrived.

In October, the Austin American-Statesman published a story about homelessness in the city. On the front cover and featured in the story: Coy Featherston. His situation had been highlighted and showcased for the world to see.

Old friends saw the article, and a woman named Leea Mechling -- a high school friend -- found Featherston and picked him up.

"I wanted to cry," he said.

While Featherston got situated in Mechling's home, another friend, Pat Judd took to GoFundMe to spread the word that Coy needed help.

When we first visited this story, Judd told KRIS 6 News that he had little-to-no expectations for the fundraiser. The original goal was set for just $2,000.

The page exploded, and if you look today, donations have reached just shy of $19,000.

Coy is on the move again.

He left Mechling's and is living with a friend just north of Austin in Lago Vista.

He is adjusting to normal life: He has a cell phone, and he spends his days playing guitar and walking the dog.

Just three months ago he was on the streets. Now he knows the comfort of a home: living under a roof and sleeping on a bed, all of this made possible by friends he hadn't seen in years, and some people he never met.

But they knew him.

"I'm still getting emails from people who are my sister's age and they are two years younger than me," he said. "People like that say 'You may not remember me, but I looked up to you in middle and high school."

The fundraiser's homepage has pages of notes, all from people expressing how thankful they are to have Featherston back in their lives.

Looking back on his journey makes Featherston emotional.

Thinking about people far and wide -- some he knows and others maybe not -- giving their money and their time to help him literally brings tears to his eyes.

"All I can say is 'Thank you,' he said. "Thank you in the biggest way."

If you are interested in helping Coy and donating money you can find the GoFundMe page here.