WWE-Styled Belt Gifted To West Mesquite High Football In Honor Of Ty Jordan, Aaron Lowe
SALT LAKE CITY- It’s not often that a story really resonates across all fan bases, but the story of Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe is one of them. Ryan Nielsen grew up a BYU fan who ultimately married a Utah fan and has found a very unique way to not only honor Utah football and their lost brothers, but other people going through tough things in Utah and across the country with WWE-styled belts. What once started as something funny and fun, has now gained more meaning to Nielsen and his family.
Been working with @Takka_Jordan on this for a while. We are gifting this @Utah_Football signed #TJAL #SWAGGERBELT to Ty and Aaron’s high school team in Mesquite TX to honor them. Huge thanks to @A_Fry21 and the #UBoyz for helping us out! Love how it turned out!! #LL22 #TJAL pic.twitter.com/RkSYI5Gssl
— Salt City Swagger (@SaltCitySwagger) October 15, 2022
Nielsen’s latest project with the help of Jordan’s aunt, Takka, was creating a belt honor both Jordan and Lowe that could be presented to West Mesquite High’s football team- where Jordan and Lowe both played before coming to Utah.
Nielsen says the project was about four or five months in the making and very rewarding knowing it was going to a good place.
A Goofy Project Goes Legit
You’ve probably seen Nielsen’s “Swagger Belts” by now if you are sports fan in the state of Utah. Whether you cheer for the Jazz, Utah or BYU, Nielsen can make you a belt that really highlights your fanaticism. Nielsen said as a fan of WWE growing up, he never intended make his own version of the iconic belts or for them to blow up the way that they have. Initially Nielson only made one belt- a Jazz one so his son could have some fun at a game, and it took off from there.
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“In 2020 I was going to be travelling to San Antonio to see the Jazz play with my son,” Nielsen said. “My brother in-law lives down there and had gotten us some really good seats for the Spurs game. I had been down the previous two years with my brother in-law and we’ve been on TV for the Jazz broadcast and interacted with the players so I was trying to figure out a way to get my son that experience. I was sitting in my basement thinking about it and happened to look at my belts and wondered if I could make a Jazz one.”
Unfortunately, that game was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the belt finally made its first appearance at a Jazz home game the following year and went viral. Nielsen has since gotten the licensing to do belts for the Jazz, Utah and BYU turning something meant to happen just once into a legit business.
From Going Legit, To Finding A Purpose
As a cancer survivor, Nielsen is naturally sensitive toward anyone that has an extra load to carry in their life. Since coming up with the “Swagger Belt” concept, Nielsen and his family have dedicated a lot of time and resources to making people feel loved who are going through something hard, including Utah football and the Jordan and Lowe families.
“I’m a cancer survivor,” Nielsen said. “I got it when I was 20 and so I’m sensitive to that. With the world the way that it is, I’m trying to teach my kids to just be good people and with all the belt stuff we have done, it’s provided us with some unique opportunities to connect with people in a different way. We’ve done several belts for pediatric cancer patients and just recently the Little League Series kid, Easton, who fell out of his bed. The whole intent behind it is to show my kids you don’t have to be a billionaire to give back to people or to make an impact.”
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Nielsen noted several times that what happened to Jordan and Lowe with Utah football was particularly painful, not just for him, but for a lot of people across Utah no matter who they actually cheered for. Nielsen believes some of it is due to getting to know some of Utah’s players such as Nick Ford better through doing a belt for the OBlock, but also believes it was just one of those situations that reminded everyone these players are living, breathing people.
“I think this tragedy hit our whole community differently,” Nielsen said of Jordan and Lowe. “Still to this day you look at certain people’s Twitter pictures and it’s a picture of Aaron Lowe with the Ty Jordan flag at the BYU game last year and you come to find out they are BYU fans. For some reason, and it started with Ty’s tragedy- I think it hit our community really hard and kind of almost humanized these football players to where the rivalry really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It hit me really hard.”
Nielsen was in the process of creating a belt he was planning to give to Utah football in honor of Ty Jordan when news of Aaron Lowe’s death trickled down. Stunned, Nielsen says he quickly made some adjustments to the belt to honor both young men. He would also go on to make two more belts for both the Jordan and Lowe families as well.
“With the belts I had a unique way to honor them,” Nielsen said. “When Aaron Lowe passed away, I couldn’t believe it. Just knowing a couple of the players on a more personal level- it made it more emotional for me and my family. We knew we wanted to do something. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a huge deal, but it was something we could do that was kind of unique to show our love and support for those guys- the coaching staff and players and everything they were going through.”
Ty Jordan, Aaron Lowe, And Passing On A Legacy
Jordan’s aunt, Takka, loved the belt Nielsen made so much that she reached out to him to come up with a concept for Jordan and Lowe’s high school football team. Nielsen said the project took about four or five months between having the belt made and then getting the 2022 Utah football team to sign it. As fate would have it, the belt was ready to go last weekend as the Utes were set to honor Jordan and Lowe in their big game against USC which they won, 43-42.
Nielsen, along with his wife, Jenni, and children Jordan, Hadley and Brinley met up with Takka and Lowe’s mother Donna for dinner at Hire’s the night before the game to present them with the belt for West Mesquite High football. Nielsen says the fry sauce wasn’t a hit with the ladies, but the belt was. Takka gave the belt to the West Mesquite High football team on Monday following the USC game in Salt Lake City.
Today I delivered the Utes FB team autographed Swagger Belt to @Coach_Sandoval1 and @WestMesquite_FB team. Thanks to @SaltCitySwagger and the guys for helping me make this possible.
Also thanks to @KoachMak and Coach Neil for encouraging TJ and AL that it's possible to go far. pic.twitter.com/3WaScGa4co
— Takka Jordan (@Takka_Jordan) October 17, 2022
“It’s showing these two kids who made it out of Mesquite, Texas and to a big-time program with the potential to go play at the next level and if not, to get a world-class education,” Nielsen said. “By having that belt there with those two names on it shows that kids just like them can get it. At the same time, I think it’s also bringing the light of how fragile life is and how careful they need to be. Don’t take life for granted because that dream is achievable if you put in the work like they are.”
— Takka Jordan (@Takka_Jordan) October 18, 2022
While what happened to Jordan and Lowe was beyond tragic, Nielsen recognizes the silver lining as well and hopes people don’t forget it in the future.
“It took an unfortunate tragedy to do it, but it was something that unified our entire community,” Nielsen said. “The circumstances were obviously horrible, but it was really cool to see people from all fan bases get behind the U and their players and their coaches and the individual families as well. I think it shows the spirit of what the state of Utah is all about. End of the day, there are people here with huge hearts that love others and unfortunately, sometimes our sports get in the way of that, or our loyalties get in the way of that.”