My first day in Las Vegas for the 2001 National Finals Rodeo was frantic.
My editor at The Oklahoman had booked me on a flight that took me from Oklahoma City to Kansas City, then on to Vegas. I arrived at my hotel, quickly unpacked, then took a cab to the Thomas & Mack Center trying to find the office to receive my credentials to cover the NFR for the first time.
The process took forever, and I was running to the tiny media room in the dungeon of the storied arena just 15 minutes before the opening ceremonies. My deadline was fast approaching, and I still needed to interview my source, four-time steer wrestling qualifier Ricky Huddleston, who was the event representative that year.
We conducted that interview in the media room while the national anthem played, and I wrote feverishly to get the story turned in by deadline. As always, Ricky was congenial and helpful, and I’ll never forget those hurried moments.
Ricky Huddleston died Saturday, April 6, 2014, of an apparent heart attack. He was 56 years old.
I first saw the posts on social media Sunday morning, and my heart sank. I immediately thought of that quick visit in Sin City a dozen years ago. Over the last day and a half, I’ve thought of several others.
Those are the memories we have when we lose friends. Many lost a good friend Saturday. My heart goes out to them, too.