AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersI had the privilege of watching Kobe up close, of interviewing him and writing about him, during his formative years with the Lakers.Complete coverage: Kobe Bryant helicopter crashHis first 10 years in the NBA coincided with my 10 years as a general sports columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News. In that great decade for L.A. sports, the job meant covering the Lakers three-peat, the Pete Carroll Trojans’ titles, the Angels’ World Series championship. Plus lots of Dodgers drama good and bad.The best part was observing Bryant from his debut as a teenager to his prime, from the triumphant but turbulent years with Shaquille O’Neal through his seasons as the Lakers’ lone superstar, from hero to villain and back in the eyes of L.A. fans amid clashes with management and the law. This was more instructive than all the rest of that decade about modern sports and celebrity and the dynamics of individual and team greatness.As a columnist, you drop in the big story of the moment. Unless your face is on ESPN a lot, players might not know you as well as they know the daily beat writers. I can count on one hand the athletes who ever walked across a locker room to say hi – not to praise or complain about something I wrote or to honor an interview request, but just to say it’s been a while and good to see you. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Bryant was one who did that, in a hockey arena in Bakersfield before a Lakers exhibition game one year in the 2000s. What might sound like a bland gesture was just the sort of small human kindness that’s rare enough in such settings to be memorable.Probably he was aware that I had often favored him when I wrote about his feud with O’Neal; or he appreciated the commitment of someone who would chug up HIghway 99 to sit in on a preseason game. Or he was just showing the kind of awareness of people around him that you’ll read about in many writers’ remembrances this week.From the beginning, even as Bryant displayed a selfish streak, a famous single-mindedness about his craft, a sometimes aloof and calculating personality, I was surprised that he was at all well-adjusted and often normal. That was no sure thing, given that he’d been immersed in basketball since birth, the hoops-obsessed son of an NBA player.Living in Italy for most of his childhood while Joe Bryant played there would have a broadening effect, of course. But it also put even more of his focus on basketball, since he saw America through NBA videos sent by his grandfather and trips to the United States to play in a summer league.His interest in the world outside basketball was a tribute to his intelligence and, no doubt, the adults in his life, both family and coaches.By the end of his playing career, the “selfish” player had helped two almost entirely different Lakers rosters to multiple championships. The kid who had skipped from high school to the NBA, and missed the intense bond between a player and his college, had more than made up for it with his 20-year connection with the Lakers and their fans. That the emotions between Bryant and fans ran the gamut only made the emotional journey more complete.The player we’d always known was great, but couldn’t always be sure was good, left the court a hero.All of which followed a familiar heel-to-hero athletic career arc. It would have been sad enough if his life had ended then.The short years since make this especially poignant. Bryant was on his way to a second life in the arts, in business, as a father, as driven as he’d been in basketball. Like John Lennon, who died at 40, he was starting over.The one-time prodigy was now the adult mentor in the lives of young NBA stars.As a Hollywood rookie, he won an Oscar as the writer and narrator of the animated short film “Dear Basketball.”Once charged with rape – though not tried, and neither convicted nor exonerated – he was the doting father to four girls and an advocate for women in sports.For once, the word “legacy” isn’t being overused. Kobe’s is heavy and complicated.Figuring out how to emulate and honor him will be hard.Writing Monday on Instagram as if he were addressing Bryant directly, LeBron James said: “I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this (expletive) on my back and keep it going!!”That might be too much responsibility for one player or even a whole Lakers team. Dedicate the season to Kobe, sure, but it’s too much to think the Lakers will have let him down if they don’t win the NBA title. That’s taking “rings or bust” thinking to an even more ridiculous extreme than usual.We haven’t wrestled with many tragedies quite like this before.Kobe Bryant’s great days as a player were behind him, and we mourn that promise fulfilled. But he seemed to be living his best days as a person when he died, and we mourn what else might have been.There’s a movie in this too. If only he could have made it. We’re all too used to the tragedy of a great athlete dying young. We make movies about such sad figures: Lou Gehrig. Steve Prefontaine. Brian Piccolo.We’re not as prepared, it turns out, to handle the tragedy of a great ex-athlete dying young.It’s one of the reasons that Bryant’s Song is a different story.By the time he died at age 41 along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday, Kobe Bryant was into a second act that was all the more amazing to those who watched him from the start of the first.
Fred KnorpFred L. Knorp, 86, died June 11, 2013 at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita.Fred was born April 23, 1927 to Claude and Lena (Fenton) Knorp in Wellington.He attended school in Wellington and college at Emporia State.Â He served in the Navy during WWII and was a member of the VFW and past Commander of the American Legion.He worked on the Santa Fe Railroad and was a Supervisor at Boeing Aircraft and then retired from Montgomery Elevator.He loved hunting, fishing, playing cards, and shooting pool.Â Family and friends were a special part of his life.Â He loved cooking for everyone and could fix prime rib better than anyone.He was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife, Marilyn; brother, Claude Knorp; and sister, Mary Knorp.Survivors include his son, Rick Knorp and wife Nancy of Clay Center, KS; daughter, Carol Harris of Hudson, NC; grandchildren, Leigh Matthews and husband Darryl of Tulsa, OK, Jason Taylor of Hickory, NC, Jeremy Butterworth of Independence, VA, Jessica Edson and husband Darryl of Wichita, KS and Sarah Knorp of Manhattan, KS;Â five great grandchildren; sister, Dortha Simpson of Wellington, KS; brother, Kenneth Knorp and wife Beverly of Sun City, AZ; brother-in-law, James Lammy of Yellville, AR; and several nieces and nephews.Graveside Services will be held at Prairie Lawn Cemetery on Friday, June 14, 2013 at 2:00 P.M.Visitation will be held at the funeral home on Thursday, June 13, 2013 from 1 â€“ 8 p.m. Â The family will be present to greet friends from 6 to 8 p.m.A memorial has been established with St. Jude Childrenâ€™s Research Hospital.Â Contributions can be left at the funeral home.Frank Funeral Home has been entrusted with the arrangements.To leave condolences or sign our guest book, please visit our website at www.frankfuneralhome.net