He was a college all star for the University of North Carolina, and he represented the United States at the U-17 and U-20 level. He was a first-round pick in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft, and he signed a pro contract in March of that year. And tragically, he would pass away just five months later, succumbing suddenly to a rare genetic heart defect he never knew he had.
Yesterday, Kirk Urso would have celebrated his 23rd birthday. Many friends and teammates took time to honour their fallen brother on his special day. The Crew organization and the Tar Heels also maintain his memory through their involvement in the memorial fund that bears his name. Among the black and gold community, he will be remembered as "Massive Forever."
The people of Vancouver may not have known Kirk Urso, but I can assure you that they understand all too well what it's like to feel the sudden loss of a young man so full of promise, and so very soon after fulfilling a life-long dream.
In what would be the first in a series of tragedies to beset the Vancouver Canucks' franchise and family over the next few years, young defenceman Luc Bourdon, 21, died in a motorcycle accident in May 2008. Five years on, whenever I hear Red Rider sing Big League, my thoughts turn immediately to Bourdon, and the opportunities that fate stole from him that day.
Socrates may have been right when he said that "The unexamined life is not worth living." But neither is a life left unexplored. In chasing their dreams, these young men started on paths into wholly uncharted territory, yet they pursued them with passion and unyielding commitment - and by making the many, many sacrifices that such an endeavor demands. Their paths were their own, and they were hungry to explore them.
For some, our time on this "mortal coil" turns out to be much too short. Come Saturday at B.C. Place, when the Whitecaps take on the Crew I'll be holding that thought come the 15th minute, and again in the 28th. If you'll be watching the match with someone you hold dear, give them a hug at some point - I don't think Kirk or Luc would mind that at all.