by Josh Lea
It was around 2 in the afternoon; I was coming out of the grocery store enjoying a day off from my duties at the Sports Animal and the Thunder radio network. I received a text from my friend who works on our sister station Wild 1049. It was about Kobe Bryant, asking if he had passed away. I laughed it off. I thought that he had read my Twitter feed from the night before. I spent the majority of the night during the Thunder recap arguing with people about the LeBron James, Bryant comparison. Shortly thereafter, I received a work-related email saying that Bryant had passed at the age of 41. As my girlfriend and I pulled into our apartment complex, time suddenly stopped. We sat in her car for about 20 minutes in silence. Both of us on our phones, looking through Twitter for a more credible source to confirm what TMZ was reporting. Once the LA Times confirmed that Bryant had passed away, my heart sank into my chest.
Kobe Bryant was my favorite athlete, the Lakers are my favorite team. The news of this hit hard for me. However, being the guy who makes audio for the Thunder radio network and the Sports Animal, I knew that there was work to do. As I made the calls and gathered audio to make the montage tributes for Kobe, I was reminded of another tragedy that was related to the tragedy of Kobe Bryant. I attended college at Mid-America Christian University from 2004-2007. I had a roommate by the name of Steve Hogans. He was a Kobe Bryant fan as well. Together throughout our years together we would watch Kobe and the Lakers in our dorm room.
Steve, however, suffered from a medical condition that required him to be on oxygen. Still, Steve cheered for the Lakers and Kobe every game that was on TV. Throughout our time together in college, we attended classes and watched many games while he battled his medical condition. Steve graduated, got married and started a family. He had a lung transplant and was doing well following his years at Mid America. As the years since then passed, I was able to land a job with 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal in 2012. I began working as the technical director and producer of the Thunder radio network. A few years later, I learned that Steve Hogans passed away at his home in Baltimore. On Sunday, the same grief I felt when Steve passed, resurfaced when Kobe passed.
Most people will remember Kobe for various reasons. I will remember watching Kobe with Steve in college. I will remember watching Kobe retire and wishing Steve was around to see the outpouring of love for him. Kobe Bryant meant so much to so many people. This is what he meant to me as a fan and as a friend.
Rest in peace Steve
Rest in peace Kobe