It was one of the most touching moments we'd seen this baseball season. Matt Kemp, the Los Angeles Dodgers star, signing an autograph after a game for a sick fan, then giving the fan, 19-year-old Joshua Jones, his hat, jersey and cleats. Even if you weren't a Dodgers fan — even if you hated the Dodgers — it was hard to not smile at that moment.
Sadly, we have an update to the story: Jones, who had been battling terminal brain cancer, has died, his aunt tells Yahoo! Sports. Jones' best friend Tommy Schultz, who filmed and uploaded the video above, confirmed the death.
Laelah Quintor, his aunt on his mother's side, tells us Jones died Tuesday night after his health had declined over the past few weeks. The moments he shared with Kemp and the Dodgers, she says, "definitely made a difference for Joshua."
Kemp and Jones first met at a game in San Francisco. The family wanted to take Joshua to see the Dodgers, his favorite team, so they pitched in (at his aunt's urging) to send him to a Giants-Dodgers game, which was closer to his home in Tracy, Calif.
Afterward, Jones posted a picture on Instagram of what Kemp gave him with the caption: "Matt Kemp gave me his uniform! Thanks Matt, I will never forget that moment!!!
Once the video of Kemp's gesture went viral — with millions of views and media attention all across the country — Kemp flew Jones to a Dodgers game in L.A. where he got to see Kemp again and meet other Dodgers such as Clayton Kershaw.
In the aftermath, his aunt says, Jones enjoyed that other Dodger fans would contact him via Facebook and Instagram and try to lift his spirits. The last photo he posted on his Instagram account is one of a bat that Kershaw gave him.
"He had hope again," Quintor told Yahoo! Sports.
Kemp, meanwhile, was saddened to hear about Jones' death, but said — through his agent, Dave Stewart — that he was grateful to have met and spent time with Jones.
"He has given me a new perspective on the things that are really important in life," Kemp said.
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