When my phone rang and I saw the call was from Winchester, MA, I knew it must be Bob Bigelow. I had called just the day before to finalize the date for a studio interview with him here in Rhode Island.
But it wasn’t Bob returning my call. It was his son, Stephen, calling with the stunning news that his dad had died of a heart attack.
I’ve known Bob since the mid-1980’s.
A basketball standout at Winchester High School, Bob went on to play for Chuck Daly at the University of Pennsylvania, helping the Quakers go 38-4 with three IVY league titles in Bob’s time there. He went on to become an NBA first-round draft pick and spent four seasons in the league.
After his playing days, Bob made a contribution to sports that continues to this day.
In the 1990’s, Bob became a fervent advocate for the reform of youth sports. His message was a call to adults to give youth sports back to the kids. The title of his 2001 co-authored book stated it clearly: Just Let the Kids Play – How to Stop Other Adults from Ruining Your Child’s Fun and Success in Youth Sports.
With a booming voice, a talent for storytelling and a marvelous wit, Bob became a sought-after speaker, spreading his passionate and thought-provoking message through more than 2,500 talks to coaches, parents, administrators and sports organizations in the U.S. and internationally.
Bob’s advocacy culminated in his 2016 ebook titled: Youth Sports: Still Failing Our Kids and How to Really Fix It.
In recent years, Bob had been serving as an advisor for Even Field, helping to fulfill my vision to cultivate integrity, life skills and leadership, through sports.
When a longtime friend suddenly is gone, there is shock and a sense of disbelief. And, when that friend has influenced your passion in life, the sadness and hurt are profound.
I am still processing the awful news of Bob’s passing.
There have been a flood of memories since then. Good ones. But also, the realization that there won’t be more of them to come. So, I will treasure the memories that I have and will forever be grateful for Bob’s friendship, advice and encouragement.
To Bob’s wife Nancy and sons Stephen and David, I offer my deepest sympathies.
And to you Bob, thank you for your generosity and know that your memory will continue to inspire me.
Rest in Peace, my friend. I will miss you.