Chicago Cubs: Kobe Bryant demise recalls Cub Ken Hubbs death

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Ken Hubbs and his unfulfilled promise

Hubbs was born in Riverside, California, on December 23, 1941, and after just a few months of birth suffered a ruptured hernia.  Doctors told his family that he would never be an athlete, especially since he had to wear a type of truss support until he was almost five because of this injury.

Hubbs would go on to prove doctors wrong by playing in the Little League World Series in 1954, representing Colton California.  At Colton High School, Hubbs was a four athlete student competing in baseball, football, basketball and track. It is reported that Hubbs was actively recruited by several schools to play different sports in each of them, like the University of Notre Dame, who offered a scholarship to Hubbs to play quarterback for the Fighting Irish.

Closer to Hubbs home, the University of California in Los Angeles’ (UCLA) John Wooden offered Hubbs a free ride to play basketball for the school. Just like Bryant, Hubbs loved the game of basketball; as was told by FoxSports  in a 50th-anniversary article of Hubbs death in 2014:

"People in the Southern California town of Colton still talk about the basketball game against rival Santa Maria. Hubbs hit a half-court shot to end the first half and a buzzer-beating jumper to send the game into overtime. He scored 23 points to lead Colton to a 53-49 win."

However, one day after graduating in 1959, Chicago Cubs longtime scout Gene Handley, who worked for the Cubs for over 54 years signing players, got Hubbs to sign with the organization and gave him a $50,000 signing bonus. At the time, Hubbs was seriously considering attending the University of Southern California or Brigham Young University but opted for a chance to play professional baseball, which Hubbs believed would be a longer career than professional football or basketball. And more lucrative than starting school as a college student.

Hubbs was about to join Chicago history.