Celebrity Mourning – A Tradition Like No Other

Kobe Bryant
January28/ 2020

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Jan 28, 2020


Celebrity Mourning – A Tradition Like No Other


“… always die in 3’s” … Where did it start that – Celebrities always die in multiples of three?  I have no idea, but I bet you’ve heard that before.  The trick with that “old saying” is (1) the definition of “celebrity” … and (2) the time frame between the passings of three “celebrities”.

For most of you who visit here with regularity; this past week would confirm that old saying with Danny Talbot – Gene Corrigan – Kobe Bryant.

To 99% of America / Earth / Milky Way Galaxy, Danny and Gene’s passings likely don’t “move the needle”.  But they both count here… as does Kobe Bryant’s tragic death.

Gene Corrigan’s passing last week at 91 might have slipped by some of you.  I never met Gene Corrigan but I have NEVER heard or read a single solitary word about him that was not praiseworthy to the nth degree.  Difficult – if not impossible – to say that about a career college athletics administrator.


That Gene Corrigan’s career preceded the Era of Social Media increased the odds that he escaped being eviscerated by the human flotsam and jetsam that fester in cyberspace. … These days… ADs and Commissioners have “KICK ME” signs permanently stapled to their backs.

Gene Corrigan was a successful college coach and administrator as AD at UVA and Notre Dame… ACC Commissioner … and even NCAA Poobah for a few years.  Try that career path and coming out at the far end universally admired and respected.  No question in my mind that Gene Corrigan COUNTS as a celebrity who passed away last week.


Danny Talbot Update… I was among the SRO assemblage at Rocky Mount’s First Baptist Church last Thursday… as were many familiar faces from Eastern NC / UNC/ACC sports history. It was a veritable Who’s Who…


NOTE:  I do appreciate the many kind words about my column – Danny Talbot – Hometown Hero.  Those are difficult to write without upsetting someone with a careless word or phrase taken out of context and misconstrued.  I seem to have navigated that slippery path this go-round.


The circumstances of Danny’s passing – a nine year battle with cancer – allows everyone involved to “prepare” for the inevitable.  That does not mitigate the deep loss at the end but it does allow for plans to be made regarding the details.  Danny Talbot’s Memorial Service was as he specifically requested.

At Danny’s request, the remarks did not center on his athletic accomplishments which were well-known to everyone present.  The music was several very familiar Baptist hymns… by a choir in robes accompanied by an organist… not “a spirit band” in jeans with guitars although there were two large video boards showing a montage of Danny’s life.  It was all very well / tastefully done… perfect for A Hometown Hero.

I (and many of you) are solidly in the “go to funerals regularly” stage of life.  Not to be confused with the “be a groomsman / bride maid” stage or the “attend friends’ childrens weddings” stage.  Maybe “its just me” but… when you read obituaries and/or attend funerals do you find yourself contemplating “your own”?  I do.


REMINDER:  “Obituaries” are simply “ads” that family / friends write on the occasion of a loved ones passing that they pay to appear in newspapers and/or websites.  The media platform does NOT write them. 

They charge by the word.  Many folks write their own obituaries and have them ready “when it’s time”.  You can pretty much Say Anything in an obituary realizing they do charge by the word.  Ergo, the first draft often gets edited after the initial word count.  Including a picture can also be pricey.  … Hey, I’m just letting you know.  I don’t make the rules.


Two of my favorite sayings regarding “Funerals”…

(1) The #1 factor determining the attendance at your funeral will be … The Weather.  Thursday in Rocky Mount was low 50s and slightly cloudy.

(2) If you don’t attend your friends’ funerals… chances are they won’t attend yours.

That #2 was credited to either Yogi Berra or Henny Youngman.

My mother’s “funeral saying” was… “When I was 68 I bought a simple black dress to wear to funerals and similar occasions.  Had I known that dress would be worn so often, I’d a bought a nicer one…”.  She also noted at 92,  that “I’ve buried three bridge clubs…”.

Micky Mantle (supposedly) said… “Had I known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”  If that wasn’t Mickey Mantle maybe it was Peahead Walker or Charles Shackleford…??

Last week Blondie’s mom Nancy – 92 – was moved into Hospice care in Missouri.  This past Sunday her first Great Grandson – “Baby Danny” – was born to Kid and Pastor Danny up in Madison Wisconsin joining twin sisters Scout & Ruthie.  “The Cycle of Life” continues …


Kobe Bryant

Which brings us to – Kobe Bryant Dies In A Tragic Helicopter Crash… you probably heard about it.  Two pretzel vendors on the dark side of Jupiter heard about it.

DISCLAIMER #1:  I no longer watch The NBA (or The NFL) because it has no entertainment appeal to me.  The NBA and “BobLee” have attained a symbiotic relationship whereby we coexist without detriment to either entity.  I have a similar relationship with the WNBA… Thai Restaurants… Gluten… and…

DISCLAIMER #2:  I am aware that Kobe Bryant was a legitimate NBA Superstar… deservedly among the All-time Greatest NBA players.  Yes, there was “an incident in Colorado” some years ago.  Celebrities often have “incidents” in their past.  Being a legitimate NBA Superstar for many years with the Lakers makes him SPECIAL to many people.

I am not at all surprised that Kobe Bryant’s tragic death has had a DRAMATIC impact on much of the American public and wherever on Earth that NBA Superstars are considered A-list celebrities.

Tragic deaths are TRAGIC regardless to whom they happen to.

I, personally, do not have a sliding scale of  “Tragic” depending on the Q-factor of the victim.  

I certainly respect the special skills of sports / entertainment “celebrities”; but they have never been my role models. That’s just me… FWIW; I had the same reaction to Princess Di’s tragic death and its aftermath.

Aircraft tragedies cause us all to wince.  I put Blondie on a plane to Chicago last week… and, as I often do, considered that airplanes DO crash with someones’ loved ones on board … the “how often” is not as much a concern as the “but when they do…” factor.


When considering The Kobe Tragedy… I recalled Payne Stewart – Thurman Munson – Roy Halliday – Roberto Clemente – John Denver – Ritchie Valens – Buddy Holly – The Big Bopper – Patsy Cline – Will Rogers … et al … those are all I could recall off-hand.  I’m sure there have been many others.

ESPN TV hosts tweeted asking how The NBA should properly honor Kobe Bryant’s memory.  I tweeted a comment that how other sports/entertainment celebrities (I listed 4 of the above) killed in similar circumstances have been honored might serve as a guide. … well…

My comments received A LOT of “likes” as well as the usual obscene remarks so common from the Twitter Peanut Gallery.

My “favorite” of the latter batch was … “I have no idea who (Payne) Stewart was; but no one of Kobe’s importance has ever died like this.  He was a Generational Icon…”. …I don’t engage abberant life forms on social media.  I was surprised he didn’t blame Donald Trump.

The name “Lakers” came with the franchise when it moved from Minneapolis in 1960.  It’s never made sense.  Why not change it to the Los Angeles Kobes?

My respect for The Media has never been “sacred”.  Buffoons such as “Ted Baxter” and “Ron Burgundy” have existed under many names for many years.  “Ted” and “Ron” would be vast improvements over what The Media is today.

Nothing brings out the very worst in The Media like a gruesome tragedy.   If it “bleeds” it leads.  The “gruesomer” the better for clicks and views.

Once I knew the particulars in The Kobe Tragedy I stopped reading the stories.  Knowing that The Media will milk it for all they can … A Tradition Like No Other.


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