The sports media world has seen far too many people lost after battles with cancer over the past few years. Just a few of those include ESPN’s Edward Aschoff (who passed at 34 in 2019), Detroit radio host Jamie Samuelsen (who passed at 48 in 2020), NFL Media’s Chris Wesseling (who passed at 46 in 2021), Purdue broadcaster Larry Clisby (who passed at 74 in 2021), A’s broadcaster Ray Fosse (who passed at 74 in 2021), and ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson (who passed at 44 in 2021). The latest is Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer, who passed away at 34 this weekend:
Jonathan Tjarks, a beloved member of the Ringer community, has passed away. Please see here for details about how to support his family. https://t.co/db1VxVg3XY
— The Ringer (@ringer) September 11, 2022
Hey all, Melissa here. Jon passed away yesterday after spending the day surrounded by family and friends. He’s in heaven now, probably asking God philosophical questions and hooping it up. Service is Friday at 11am. All are welcome. Details linked here: https://t.co/s78lSxgtYS
— Jonathan Tjarks (@JonathanTjarks) September 12, 2022
Tjarks was diagnosed with a very rare sarcoma in early 2021, which he wrote about that May. He wrote again about his battle with the disease this March. Here’s an excerpt from that latter piece, touching on his worries for his son Jackson, who was almost two at that time:
One thing I have learned from this experience is that you can’t worry about things that you can’t control. I can’t control what will happen to me. I don’t know how long I will be there for my son. All I can do is make the most of the time that I have left. That means investing in other people so they can be there for him.
Tjarks’ wife Melissa wrote about his passing on Caring Bridge Sunday:. Here’s an excerpt from that:
Jon passed away in my arms around 7:50pm yesterday evening. He had a love-filled day surrounded by family and his two best friends. We shared our favorite Jon stories, laughed, cried, and caught the last few seconds of the UT football game. He’s in heaven now, probably asking God a thousand philosophical questions from the comfiest recliner, catching up with his dad Larry, and taking the occasional hoop or hot tub break.
We are heartbroken at the loss of this beautiful man. He was the best husband to me, dad to Jackson, and son to Bernie. He was a friend to so many, and cared deeply for each individual person. He made me the happiest woman on earth. I never thought I could be so loved, and even in his final days, he was still loving me so well. He adored Jackson with every fiber of his being, and his smile lit up the room when he played with and talked about Jackson. Jackie Boy was his crowning achievement and greatest joy. Jon was such a precious gift and I’m forever grateful for the years we had together.
Twitter has seen many notable tributes to Tjarks. Here are a few:
These words of wisdom from Jonathan Tjarks last month (in an interview with @ChrisCarrino) on his perspective of life and the prospect of death were so moving and continue to stick with me. He knew what and who was important to him, and lived it with clarity and purpose pic.twitter.com/LFF9nMCZmE
— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) September 12, 2022
I absolutely loved Tjarks. This hurts so badly.
In blissful times, this was when he came to visit us – and he told the story of his life/ how became a writer/ career/ etc. https://t.co/8pEAV5JGTV https://t.co/auw6F4Ko9V
— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) September 11, 2022
Heartbroken to hear of Jonathan Tjarks’ passing. I think about this piece he wrote about fatherhood and his son almost every day. Prayers to his sweet family. https://t.co/EQnahJwXwt
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 11, 2022
The fat-stripped prose; the patterns of basketball he observed and foretold; his role as a husband, a father, and a man of faith. Jonathan Tjarks sought clarity—of vision, of purpose—and often found it. And he was gracious enough to share his findings with the world. What a gift.
— Danny Chau (@dannychau) September 12, 2022
"What did he like doing? What were his experiences growing up? What were his goals in life?" This piece by Jonathan Tjarks (RIP) was crushing for 1000s of reasons but especially because I'm reminded of the things we'll never know about the people we love. https://t.co/hHEzkflXAo
— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) September 12, 2022
NBA Communications sends our condolences to Jonathan Tjarks’ family and friends at The Ringer.
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) September 11, 2022
Over 3,000 people have come together to help support the Tjarks family. Our friend is gone and his wife and young son have a long road ahead. https://t.co/v5t42mG8dV
— Kirk Henderson (@KirkSeriousFace) September 12, 2022
That last link is to a GoFundMe fundraiser for Tjarks’ family, which has raised more than $222,000 of its $125,000 goal to date. Those looking to donate to help support his family going forward can find that page here.
Update: This post initially had Tjarks’ age incorrect; he was 34, not 35.
[The Ringer; photo supplied to The Ringer by Tjarks’ family]