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‘Safe, protected, and loved’

The legacy of Anthony ‘Tuffie’ Pate

By Patricia Muhammad

Saving the world

Anthony Pate earned the nickname Tuffie because he would defend anyone who called on him. “I told him when he was a teenager that he could not save the world,” said his mother.

Anthony “Tuffie” Pate, 1982–2003
(Photo provided by family)
But Tuffie was determined to do something positive with his life. Throughout high school he stayed out of gangs, and shortly after graduation he joined the Navy and entered Naval Station Norfolk, a base in Norfolk, Virginia. Tuffie’s departure from the old neighborhood gave him something new to look forward to, and it gave his mother a sense of relief.

Best friends

James Cobbins and Tuffie were best friends in high school, as close as brothers. “Tuffie was my superhero. He was like a big brother to me,” Cobbins said. After Tuffie’s departure Cobbins struggled to find a sense of belonging. His parents noticed.

When Tuffie was home on a short military leave, Cobbins’ father took him to Tuffie’s home in Harvey. “My father felt that Tuffie and I needed to have a man-to-man talk, since I seemed to start straying on the wrong path,” Cobbins recalled. Those “tough love” talks kept Cobbins grounded.

The ultimate sacrifice

But one wintry day, the unimaginable happened. According to a report given by Tuffie’s mother, Tracy Pate, her son received a distressing call from the wife of a navy buddy. She was being threatened, and her husband was at sea when she called him, so he told her to call Tuffie, knowing Tuffie would help. Pate says her son arrived on the scene and was stabbed to death as he attempted to save his friend’s wife.

The Tuff Luv movement

That was December 7, 2003. In the years since, Cobbins has diligently kept Tuffie’s memory alive—by following his example and making positive change.

“I have a movement called Tuff Luv,” said Cobbins, whose business is headquartered in Lansing. “The name Tuff Luv comes from my friend…Tuffie. I take anything that I do or any type of work I do to give back, and I call all my businesses Tuff Luv.”

These days, under his Tuff Luv Entertainment initiative, Cobbins helps his sister Christina in the development of an all-girls’ basketball program in Crete, Illinois. Last month, Cobbins and his godsister Carmen Pate, joined together to launch a toy drive for more than 150 boys and girls. Through the years, Cobbins has reached out to help school children and single moms by providing book bags and school supplies.

Tuffie was a courageous soul who will be remembered as kind-hearted, thoughtful, and caring. He laid his life down so someone else could be spared.

Cobbins said of his friend, “He was a giver and a protector. He changed my life. He was a motivator and kept my head on straight. Tuffie reminded me of Vin Diesel in the movie Fast and Furious. Once you became part of Tuffie’s family, you always felt safe, protected, and loved.”

From left: James Cobbins, Tracy Pate (Tuffie’s mom), and Carmen Pate are keeping alive the legacy of Anthony “Tuffie” Pate. (Photo provided by family)

Patricia Muhammad
Patricia Muhammad
Patricia Muhammad is a contributing writer for both The Lansing Journal and the South Holland Shopper. She enjoys writing stories about events, people, and places she feels would interest local residents—such as the Lansing Car Show, Super Teci's benefit, Water's Edge, and Recycling 101. She is also a published author of three children's books: Princess Feldings & The Academy of Queens, Prince Hasmir High Seas Adventure, and When Jaguars Roar.


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