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Teen befriended by Matt Kemp passes away

Aug 8, 2013, 8:28 PM EDT

Sad news to pass along courtesy of our friends at Yahoo! Sports. Joshua Jones, the young fan who was be befriended by Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp earlier this year, has passed away following a battle with brain cancer. He was just 19 years old.

It was hard not to be touched when Kemp gave Jones his jersey, hat and cleats following a game in San Francisco on May 5. Video of the good deed quickly went viral.

Kemp’s relationship with Jones didn’t end there. Later that month, he flew Jones and his family from Oakland to see a Dodgers game in Los Angeles, during which he had the opportunity to meet other stars, including Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

Laelah Quintor, Jones’ aunt on his mother’s side, told Yahoo! Sports that the generosity from Kemp and others gave the teen “hope again.”

This story — like Bryce Harper‘s 13-year-old friend, Gavin Rupp — unfortunately has a sad ending, but Kemp deserves credit for taking a few minutes of his time to make someone’s day. It’s just a reminder of how powerful playing a kid’s game can be. RIP, Joshua.

  1. biasedhomer - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Very sad.

    But its nice to see athletes like Kemp are out there who live up to the “role model” label.

  2. kjericho43 - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    2 of these stories in a week? Really? That’s 2 too many.

  3. buffal0sportsfan - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Terrible story this happens way to often. Good that people like Kemp and harper are aware and give to those who are less fortunate.

  4. dondada10 - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    It must have been a blast to meet all those major leaguers. Good on you Matt Kemp for allowing that kid to experience it.

  5. Chris Schutte - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Well hell, that just ruined my day. I’m so thankful that Matt Kemp could see what a huge impact such a small gesture could have. Good on you Matt and all the best to Mr. Jones’ family.

  6. hojo20 - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    This video makes me remember how loud/annoying the female PA announcer is. She should be fired.

  7. liquidgrammar - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    Amen!

  8. beaver15 - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    what’s worse is that, PED conversation overtakes this story. If ESPN would take a moment to acknowledge the beautiful moments athletes do for those who need help with hope, it would go a long way to let casual fans know that pro athletes aren’t just money hungry. They have a heart & feelings as well.

  9. dkphilly1122 - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    Sad sad news that yet again someone with there whole live ahead of them passes away. God Bless his family and Kemp for being a role model kids can actually look upto unlike athletes anymore. It is good that some athletes do this type of stuff, but like the guy who posted up further said, they always have PED stuff as top stories and stuff like this is minor. It should be the opposite. #CancerSucks

  10. jwbiii - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    Sometimes these stories work out a little better. This one has so far at least. A host on a Chicago radio sports talk show is also on the board of a children’s cancer charity foundation that, among other things, sets up meet and greets with kids with cancer and ballplayers. He did that with the White Sox a few years ago, and the kid hung out in the dugouts during BP. He really hit it off with then A’s backup 3B Jack Hannahan, and they exchanged phone numbers and talk frequently.

    The kid’s dad and the radio host were talking later and he thanked him but said, “We’re really Cubs fans. He’s going through another round of treatments right now, but could you set something with the Cubs for when he feels a little better?”

    A little while later, the kid gets a DVD in the mail. It’s Joe Ricketts and 1B Anthony Rizzo giving him a pep talk. Rizzo is a cancer survivor himself. Ricketts closes by holding up a jersey with the kid’s name on it and saying, “When you’re feeling better, give us a call. You can throw out the first pitch and you and your father can sit with me in my box.” Apparently the kid’s a pretty nice guy, because he got Ricketts’ personal e-mail address and promise that he would help him in any way that he could.

    Last December, the kid calls Hannahan.
    “How’s it going, Jack?”
    “Not so good. It’s December and I don’t have a job. Only an NRI offer from the Reds.”
    “I’ll see what I can do.”

    The kid drops Ricketts an e-mail. Ricketts writes back, “I let my baseball people make baseball decisions, but I’ll be talking to Jed Hoyer later today. I’ll mention his name.”

    Ricketts talked to Hoyer, Hoyer talked to Hallahan’s agent, Hallahan’s agent talked to Walt Jocketty. Jocketty countered with a two year offer.

    Hallahan called the kid.
    “What did you do?”
    “Joe Ricketts is a friend of mine. I put in a good word for you.”
    “What size shoes do you wear?”

    After the contract was signed, New Balance, Hallahan’s shoe and gear sponsor called.
    “Same deal as last year?”
    “No, here’s what you have to do for me. Everything you send to me, you send the same thing to my friend.”

    The kid’s doing well. I think these little kindnesses happen much more often than we hear about, especially when it’s some bench player instead of a star like Kemp or Harper.

    • cur68 - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:07 AM

      Christ. I thought I was beyond getting emotional over this stuff. I see so much life and death, I’ve grown used to it.
      But this. Wow.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Aug 9, 2013 at 1:28 AM

      That’s a super cool story. Thank you for sharing it.

    • tigersfandan - Aug 9, 2013 at 8:55 AM

      Even if that was made up, and I suspect it at least partially was, that’s pretty cool.

  11. acdc84 - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    I’m a Dodger fan so I’m “proud” to see Kemp being involved, but I assume/hope this happens all the time in every other MLB city, where a local star gives a few minutes to make the day of a true hero like Joshua Jones. RIP Joshua, and I salute athletes like Kemp that provide even just a few minutes of escape to fans like Joshua. I hope all of Joshua’s loved ones can find a tiny bit of comfort when they remember how happy Kemp and Joshua were when they had a moment together…

  12. cur68 - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    Matt Kemp gets a lifetime pass from me. He did his best for this kid.

    /hat tip

    • historiophiliac - Aug 9, 2013 at 1:20 AM

      That’s some Oklahoma goodness there.

  13. rgledz - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:45 AM

    Fuck cancer.

  14. Samuel - Aug 9, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Reblogged this on But at the end of the day… and commented:
    So sad. But I am glad that there are good athletes out there that know they have a huge platform to do good in this world.

  15. rickdobrydney - Aug 9, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Good for Kemp —- and it is a sad way to start the day—-

  16. kane337 - Aug 9, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Gone way too soon. Matt Kemp deserves a ton of praise for taking a little time to make a sick kid feel great for a while.

  17. florida727 - Aug 9, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Wow! Just got goosebumps watching that video again. Major respect for Matt Kemp for making that kid’s final days better. What a class act.

  18. jimeejohnson - Aug 9, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Northern Cal fan here, but this makes me root for Matt Kemp’s team, no matter if it bleeds Dodger blue or not. Matt Kemp shows the power sports can have to make things better, even in a tragic situation.

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