Matt Kemp reflects on passing of terminally ill fan
LOS ANGELES — Matt Kemp didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to Joshua Jones, the terminally ill Dodgers fan he met in May while the team was in San Francisco. But it was clear Friday that the 19-year-old left an impression.
“I’m just glad I got a chance to meet him and do what I did for him and make his dreams come true,” Kemp said of Jones, who died Tuesday night after battling brain cancer.
The Dodgers held a moment of silence before their game against the Tampa Bay Rays, their first home game since Jones’ passing.
Kemp met Jones after the Dodgers played the Giants at AT&T Park on May 5, giving him an autographed baseball plus his jersey, hat and spikes. Kemp was not aware that their meeting was being recorded on video, but it was posted online and went viral.
Kemp later flew Jones from Oakland to Los Angeles and invited him to a Dodgers game, where he met Clayton Kershaw and Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
Kemp said he had planned to call Jones but was not able to before Jones died.
Kemp said when he learned of Jones’ death, “it was a little bit shocking, but you knew it was going to happen. I know that doesn’t sound too good, but he was a big-time Dodger fan, and hopefully he was excited about the way the boys were playing. It’s just a tough situation.”
Kemp has been on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle but was on the field before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays performing agility drills. He said he also did a light jog and has been taking batting practice.
“I have no time limit” regarding a return, he said. “I don’t know when I’m going to be ready. I just know when my leg feels good. I know when I’m ready. The sooner the better.”
Kemp is eligible to be activated at any time. Manager Don Mattingly said, “He’s moving in the right direction,” but the Dodgers have not said when they expect the outfielder to return.
In his absence, the team is 14-3.
“It’s been tough, but I’m proud of the boys,” he said. “The boys have been playing good. Hopefully I’ll come back stronger than ever and join in on this fun they’re having.”