Like so many members of the media in this region on Tuesday evening, learning about the death of ESPN Dallas reporter Richard Durrett was a miserably sad moment that will serve as a marker for myself and many others. I am so sad for his two little kids. So sad for his wife, Kelly, whom he had dated since their days at TCU. Mostly, I am sad for Richard.
My friend of nearly 20 years is gone at 38. I never did get to tell him what his decency, friendship and relentless kindness meant to me. He had no idea what I thought about him. Maybe it's a guy thing. Or maybe it's an alive thing.
Mine is a well earned reputation that spares no one from either playful or sincere ribbing, and yet about this man I would never have dared say a bad word - sincere or no.
I have known Richard since my days as a graduate assistant in the media relations office at TCU, in 1996. Richard was an undergrad, and an aspiring radio play by play voice. He was the voice of TCU women's basketball, and eventually he asked me to join him as his color analyst.
For two years we roomed together on the road. We did games together on the air. Those teams became a tight community of friends, and the two of us spent a lot of time together. Just sitting here and I can recall ... so much.
Richard was my TCU running buddy, and without him my experience there would not have been as full, fun or memorable. We were two sports dorks running around, living on nothing, and I don't think either of us realized how much fun we had. We were an odd pair - he was the straight man to my rather peculiar personality.
He was my roomate to places such as San Jose, San Diego, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Albquerque, El Paso, Provo, Salt Lake City, Fresno, Honolulu, etc. Going out on the strip in Vegas with Richard was an experience.
One night, after we arrived to San Jose in 1997, I realized I did not have my car keys. I feared I had somehow left them in the door of my car, which was at the TCU basketball arena. He called his girlfriend, Kelly, who went to my car and retrieved the keys.
One afternoon in Hawaii, myself, TCU women's basketball trainer Kristin Lage and Richard rented a car and spent all day driving around the island. We stopped at the North Shore to look at the waves, and I suggested we swim around. The current and undertow were intense, and I can recall Richard coming out of the water with this giant smile.
This top picture is of Richard and I on the North Shore. The next is of Richard at a famous statue in Honolulu.
Richard was a unique combination of decency, and intensity. He could get very worked up about something, but he was never mad. He was never uncomfortable to be around. Ever.
Many may not know this, but Richard was a member of the TCU band. For those of us who knew Richard, the image of Richard wearing a university band outfit is ... appropriate.
Many may not know this, but Richard actually came from a well off home. You would never know it because he lived so modest, and so clean. And he worked just so hard in a profession that is not super lucrative.
Shortly before I was preparing for a backpacking trip to Europe in '98, Richard bought me a few things that he thought I might need. A book about Europe. A set of keys and locks for a backpack. An air pillow to sleep. He just did it.
A few years later, he was the PR director for the minor league Fort Worth Fire hockey team. I will always recall his voice on the phone when he called me to tell me, in a very hushed tone, the team was shutting down operations. He was giving me a "big scoop" because we were friends.
And then, as happens to most of us, life gets busy. He and Kelly came to our wedding reception in Fort Worth. We exchanged Christmas cards. We would chat at professional events, and that was about it.
In 2003, he and I were competitors covering the Dallas Stars. He was at the Dallas Morning News. We were in the press box in the American Airlines Center, and after a game he was struggling. I had one year's of experience already in the bank of covering that team, and a source that gave me everything.
As a competitor, I should have rejoiced. But this was my friend. He said he didn't think he was doing a very good job, that he didn't follow his gut. I remember telling him he knew every bit as much as me, if not more, and to trust his instinct.
It was the one time I felt I did something for him after he had done nothing but show me kindness and decency for so long.
A few weeks ago, I heard he was going to fill in for Eric Nadel as the Rangers' play by play voice for one broadcast. I was thrilled for Richard because I knew that this is what he wanted to do. I Tweeted and texted him a few congratulatory and words of encouragement. He texted back, "Thanks. It was a bucket list."
That was the last I heard from him. How do you know you are never going to see someone again?
Now he's gone. Gone from his kids. Gone from his wife. Gone from his mom, dad and brother. Gone from so many of us who enjoyed seeing him.
The whole thing makes me so sad to the point of tears, and mad ... mad because I never did get to say thank you.
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