Piece of history returns home

Once-stolen 1978 state championship ring makes its way back to rightful owner

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Hank Laywell was part of Sealy football history, playing on the 1978 team that won the town’s first state championship.

His mother made sure to bookmark the occasion, purchasing a ring to commemorate the achievement for her son to have forever. About 15 years ago, however, the ring was stolen from Laywell’s truck, possibly never to be found again.

A couple of nights ago though, Hank’s wife Kimberly was contacted through Facebook inquiring if she was indeed the spouse of Sealy’s No. 65, Laywell, and she made this post late Monday night:

“Hank played football for the Sealy Tigers and was #65. Hank was very fortunate to play on a team with a lot of talent. They won State in Football in 1978. It was Sealy’s first State Championship. Hanks mom bought him his State ring. Hank’s mom passed away 4 years ago,” the post states.

“We moved from Sulphur Springs to Hillsboro in 2002 and Hank became the Athletic Director in Covington, a small town 12 miles from Hillsboro. 15 years ago, Hank’s ring was stolen out of his truck. The ring was in a bag and whoever took the bag threw it out in a neighbor’s yard and kept the ring. Hank was so upset because this ring was very sentimental to him. We hoped someone would try to pawn it and maybe we would get it back.

“Last night I was contacted through Facebook from a lady that had a friend that found a ring inside of an old tire in the house she was renting in Sweeney. She cleaned it up and could read ‘Hank Laywell #65 Sealy High School 1978 State Champs.’ She asked me if this was my husband.

“I immediately said yes, and we would love to have it back. I told her I would send her money to mail it to us. She replied, ‘No ma’am I don’t want any money my husband gets paid this week and I will mail it to you.’ So when you stop and think the world is turning bad there are good people out there that do amazing things for a stranger,” the message closed.

Hank agreed that it was out of the ordinary to experience this kindness and gladly reverses negative thought processes that had overcome him as the years went on.

“I’d already given up hope,” he told ABC13’s Stefania Okolie. “I figured one day, maybe someone would pawn it off or something at a pawn shop … I think it’s just a sign that there is some good people in the world and we were lucky to find one.”

Hank and Kim’s daughter, Landry, will be in a similar situation although the family hopes this same story won’t occur with her.

Landry is a recent graduate of Thorndale High School where she closed her high school tennis career on back-to-back state championships after finishing as state runner-up her sophomore in 2017.

The Laywells dropped their little girl off to college a few weeks ago where she will get the opportunity to play tennis for the Hardin-Simmons University Cowboys and create more memories that will last a lifetime.

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