It didn’t really sink in that fast. I was scrolling though instagram this afternoon checking out some tricks people had posted after jokingly posting a rough and rather awful sketch of a fake logo for one of the guys from the IRC and then I realized what I saw. There was a post by one of AJ’s closer friends about him passing away.
I was a few scrolls down by the time I realized what I had seen. Then as I scrolled back up in saw three more posts. Might have been more actually but it was one of those, “holy shit, what?” kind of moments where you were zoned out and something insane happened. Well something insane did happen, AJ Kirk passed away.
I’m in that place where I’m not sure what to think or feel about the news. I knew AJ, probably not as well as the people posting pictures of him or videos but I knew him. I interviewed him for my website yoyocourse (when it was still around) as a player highlight when his Ringmaster yo-yo came out. I chatted with him in yoyoing.com’s chat room. I got in trouble with him asking Takeshi to sponsor my contest on air on YoYoRadio.
At the 2005 National contest he sat between me and my buddy Matt while my mom drove us all from the hotel to Bird in Hand to spend time at the precontest hang out. He was funny, talked the whole way there, made jokes about my handle Kite, and generally was a great dude. My mom occasionally mentions him when we talk about the days we used to go to yo-yo contests as a family.
I suppose I shouldn’t draw this on too long, I was more of an acquaintance when it comes to AJ Kirk, I would send him a message probably once a year but that was the limit. That being said, when I bumped into him at nationals a few years back, 2013 I think, he treated me like a long lost friend, I’m pretty sure he offered me a beer (or tried to take one, hard to say, we were in post contest mode at that point) but he was warm and welcoming. I watched him wander into random yo-yoer’s hotel rooms several times that night.
Heck he slipped me a beer in the parking lot while everyone was watching someone do 3A for the throwdown they do. Or used, to, I haven’t been by the contest in a while… At any rate, AJ, I’m going to miss you, you held a wide spread of fond memories of mine from 2004 to 2014. Rest in peace.