Tyler Summitt is shopping for his entry portal to the coaching profession. It's time to leave the nest in his famous mother's professional family tree.
Summitt, a University of Tennessee senior and walk-on basketball player, is trying to find a graduate-assistant position with an established program.
Pat Summitt - A season of courage
View a special section that highlights Pat Summitt's 2012 season - the season in which she made public her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. View section »
"I've talked to Florida, Kentucky, the Baylor women,'' he said. "I'm looking all over. I definitely want to get on a coaching path.''
To enhance his resume, that means going somewhere outside Tennessee and Pat Summitt's extended family of coaches. And, of course, it means leaving his mother's side as she continues her battle with early-onset dementia.
"Initially,'' Tyler said, "I was second-guessing myself, but I need to get outside her experience and prove myself.
"She's all for it. She said if this (coaching) is what I want to do, I need to go away and not worry about her.''
Tyler, Summitt's only child, has been a rock of support since the diagnosis last summer.
"If things were not going well,'' he said, "I don't know if I would leave. But she's doing great.
"I think she's got a great support group and, no matter what happens, honestly, she's been doing incredible.
"I couldn't ask for God to move in a better way than he has.''
Basketball has been part of Tyler's life from his first memories. Riding on the team bus or hanging out at practice with Chamique Holdsclaw and the rest, they were all like big sisters.
His mother never forced the game on him. He said she and his father, R.B. Summitt, both prepared him for leadership by treating him as an adult early on.
That approach paid off in the past year as he accepted an expanded role in helping manage his mother's affairs.
"I went to banquets when I was five years old in a suit and tie,'' he said.
"I think it's prepared me for some of the bigger decisions, going to the doctor's offices, going to the financial advisers, getting everything straight, meeting with the athletic directors here.
"They (his parents) prepared me for that and also, God has blessed me and given me the skills to do it.''
While acknowledging that his responsibilities have grown beyond those of an average college senior, Tyler said he has never felt overwhelmed by his mother's illness.
"I'm really not doing that much right now,'' he said.
"She's still the boss. She tells me what to do.''