Sports Agent Lost Parents — 6 Minutes Apart — Due To COVID-19
Note: The full version of this story on veteran sports agent Buddy Baker, written by SI.com's Greg Bishop, is available here.
The Bakers’ unshakeable, unbreakable bond began the same way as so many love stories, with a boy who met a girl at a party and soon after pledged to love her, unconditionally, for the rest of his life. Stuart Baker never broke his promise. Not after he bumped into his soulmate, Adrian, more than half a century ago at a sorority in Queens. Not when they started dating. Nor when they married. Nor when they spent the next 51 anniversaries celebrating the life they’d always wanted, which was exactly the life they’d built.
Their world centered on their two children, Sheri and her brother, Buddy. Sheri would become a lead operations associate at a bank. The boy would grow up to become a successful and respected NFL and NBA agent with clients ranging from retired wideout Doug Baldwin to Colts tight end Jack Doyle to the Griffin twins, Seahawks teammates so close they wrote a book titled Inseparable, their lives so intertwined they often can seem like a single person. Just like Buddy’s parents.
Buddy says that title only begins to describe the Bakers. His mother learned to enjoy golf so that she could spend time watching the game with his father, and later in life, they sat there on the couch, day after day, their knees touching as if glued in place. It’s not that they spent every chance they could in the same place; it’s that they never spent more than 10 minutes or so at home not in the same room.
Stuart had always been an extrovert, a leader, a man who served his country as an Army medic in Vietnam, came home and became a physical education teacher and a coach—and not in the suburbs but in the Queensbridge projects, where the lessons he imparted saved countless lives. Adrian was a gentle soul, the family backbone, a woman with so much empathy she quit her job as a nurse because she couldn’t stomach what happened to her patients. She worked as a clerk at the IRS instead.
About 17 years ago, the Bakers left New York and moved to Boynton Beach, Fla., settling in a retirement community named Tuscany Bay. Sheri planned their 50th wedding anniversary, last year, at a local banquet hall. Her parents expected to eat dinner with their grandchildren; instead, 60 friends stood before them, everyone smiling, yelling out, “Surprise!” Both parents told Buddy individually that the party had marked one of the happiest days of their respective lives. “You wish you could take how we felt that day and sustain it,” Buddy says …
… two days after his parents’ funeral …
… less than a week after they both died, six minutes apart, from complications related to the coronavirus.