Today is August 6. It is Sean Lowe’s birthday. I imagine this day beginning with Sean’s 1-year-old son (a supreme bundle of cuteness) waking him up in the most inadvertent toddler way possible. Maybe it would be a smack in the face. Or a sippy cup to the nose. Or deafening wailing to signal hunger, or a soiled diaper. Either way, he would have enjoyed it. All of it. Even the diaper.
I envision Sean glancing over at the boy’s beautiful mother, grinning with a playful smirk. She’d then say something cute and loving, which would prompt a quippy retort, and they’d embrace in some picturesque, beautiful black family way.
He’d then post evidence of his model family via social media, equipped with a witty, thought-provoking quote on the joys of turning thirty. He loved to do that. He’d respond to an onslaught of texts, calls, and other messages as diligently as possible. The sheer volume would be a challenge. He’d speak to the strong woman who raised him, thanking her for the endearing love and support she’s showered him with over the past three decades. He’d then share laughs with his younger brother, who adored and exalted him.
He would later jubilantly celebrate into the night, an event that would be a privilege to attend. He’d trade funny barbs as he reminisced about the times he shared with those lucky enough to call him a friend. All of which would fade in comparison to the tall tales in his best friend’s arsenal. He is a comedic nut.
It should be a joyous day. It would have been. But it’s not. These thoughts only exist in my mind. They will never come to fruition. Because Sean is not here and neither is his son.
I’ve tried many times to make sense of the events that took place on February 10, the fateful night that claimed the lives of two exceptional souls. I frequently replay the events before and after, looking for nuances that could have altered the tragic outcome. It’s a painfully futile habit.
I try to justify Sean’s absence, attempting to convince myself that it’s part of God’s plan. There must be some reason for ending the life of a remarkable young man, right? There must be. It’s a notion that remains unanswered. The only logical conclusion that I can surmise is sometimes terrible things happen to good people because it’s the nature of our existence. There is exceptional cruelty in the randomness of death. We can only celebrate the life that was.
Sean Ameer Lowe is perhaps the most extraordinary man that I’ve ever known. I do not use this superlative lightly. This is not intended to be hyperbole. He was a phenomenally unique person.
I remember when we first met. I was a part of a newly minted retail management team tasked with opening an outlet store and we were conducting interviews for associates. Having interviewed approximately 200 candidates over the course of three days, the exercise had become a banausic undertaking, to say the least. There are only so many introductions, fake smiles, and unimpressive statements a person can endure before voices become muted trombone cries.
I recall walking in Hampton Inn & Suites on day 4, with my backpack in tow, thinking just how exhausted I was. I grabbed a cup of coffee, settled into the familiar confines of the hotel’s boardroom and greeted everyone with a pseudo-enthusiastic “good morning”. After discussing our criteria and objectives for the upcoming applicants, I retreated to the hallway to receive our latest candidate.
Against the wall stood a thin Black man with a goatee. His attire was oddly formal, especially given the setting. Interviews predictably warrant business casual attire, but we were hiring for an athletic company and expected some informality. I certainly didn’t anticipate seeing someone draped in dress shoes, black slacks, a red Oxford shirt, and an argyle sweater vest. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought he’d be attending a Kappa convention rather than a Nike interview.
As I approached the gentleman, he flashed a cunning smile, extended his hand for a customary handshake and said, “Hey, I’m Sean Lowe.”
“Morgan,” I replied. We shared a few more pleasantries, entered the room and prepared for yet another interview.
I fully expected to recommend this candidate for hire, as others within the company revered him. He exhibited a cordial first impression and a friendly personality. But I was tired and didn’t forecast a memorable interaction.
Within 5 minutes this man from Jamaica Queens, New York obliterated my expectations. There was a calm confidence in him as he spoke with unrelenting zeal about his belief in the power of sport. He shared tales of his days as a track athlete for the University of Maryland, his failed journey to become an Olympic athlete, and his deep passion for helping others reach their full potential. And he did so with a genuinely warm smile. It was the kind of smile that gave others a comforting resolve The entire room held onto his every word.
Nearly 30 minutes, and a heap of superb anecdotes later, the interview concluded. My boss recited a few procedural instructions, some salutations, and Sean began to depart. “Thank you so much for the opportunity guys, and girls,” he said, thoughtfully acknowledging everyone’s gender. Sean always wanted those he spoke with to feel respected. “It was a pleasure. This was a lot of fun.”
As he disappeared beyond the laminate door, I turned to my supervisor and said, “Wow. He needs to be on my team. Period.”
Over the years Sean and I developed a remarkable relationship. We seamlessly bounced ideas off each other. Though we disagreed often, there was profound respect in our contention. We used the contrarian nature of our bond as fuel to become better leaders. It didn’t matter that I was his superior. We were equals, a formidable team, capable of doing remarkable work convivially.
It wasn’t long before our rapport extended beyond a professional accord. We reveled in our shared presence. We habitually reenacted Key & Peele skits, spoke to each other in Pootie Tang, and discussed the beautiful complexities of J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.
We debated the Stay Puft Marshmallowness of Aubrey Drake Graham, the comedic repertoire of Eddie Murphy versus Kevin Hart, the terrible luckiness of Eli Manning, and the frustrating process of purchasing Jordan’s.
But more than anything, we cared about each other. We appreciated each other’s struggles as fellow Black men and fathers.
One instance, in particular, was a few weeks before his tragic departure. I was overwhelmed with the vast amount of pitfalls I’d been experiencing both professionally and personally. I was catching more Ls than Meek Mill and having trouble coping with them. As I sat in the communal office we shared, dejected and uninterested in doing anything, Sean walked in, displayed his signature smile and said, “You look stressed. There’s no reason to be stressed. Just find your happy place and focus on what you can control: You. We gon’ be alright. We goin’ straight to the top.”
It was a simple pick me up. But the sincerity in Sean’s voice was incredibly striking. He believed in me, even when I doubted myself the most.
I miss Sean every day. I miss him when Kendrick Lamar does something Kendrick Lamarish, like release an album out of the blue, or give jaw-breaking award show performances, or catch passes from his label mate during an NFL training camp. I miss him when my son reaches a milestone (like saying new words or imitating a video), and I need to unload my joy onto a fellow dad. I miss him when the Maryland basketball team creates annoyingly viral dancing videos. I miss him when Michigan State does frustratingly idiotic things, like losing in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, and I know I’ll be the victim of unrelenting shit talking.
I miss him because we never experienced these things due to a person’s dreadfully irresponsible judgment. I miss him because his family wasn’t allowed to share moments that meant so much more than my own.
I recently read that Monty Williams, an associate coach for the OKC Thunder, still texts his late wife at times. She too was killed in an automobile accident. It’s a habit I’ve also adopted. I know Sean’s will never reply. I know we’ll never exchange memes of corny dog jokes again. But there’s solace behind the action.
I regularly view Sean’s social media accounts. I also keep his obituary on my person whenever I travel. It’s my way of ensuring that I never forget him. Even without the benefit of technology, I’m not sure that I could. Despite our brief time together, Sean had a profound impact on my life. It was an honor to know him, for which I am incredibly grateful.
I haven’t spoken to Sean’s family much since his death. With each passing day, I feel guilty for my lack of communication. It’s convenient to become swarmed within the perils of my life. But I mostly refrain because I don’t know what to say. It’s ironic, given that I dub myself a writer (and a crafter of words). I just don’t know what I could express that would undo the excruciating pain and sorrow they’ve endured. I don’t believe there’s any amount words I could construct that would resonate enough to console their heartache.
I suppose the only thing I can do is attempt to live my life as a testament to his. Sean was everything I aspired to be. He embodied the noblest traits a man could possess. He cared deeply for those around him and had an everlasting desire uplift those within his circle (he called it his Happy Place). He was an incredible father, and found joy in life’s minutia, rarely taking moments for granted.
He should be here gently scolding me for scarfing unhealthy food too fast. Or working too much. Or getting upset about insignificant things I cannot control. We should be raising glasses of Grand Marnier, celebrating thirty years as Black men on this planet, looking forward to 100 more. We should be formulating the many ways our sons will one day take over the world. I should be telling him how he was the greatest Olympic athlete that never was, as we share our observations from this year’s Games in Rio.
But for now, all I can do is write. I pray that it’s enough, though I doubt that it is. This one’s for you Sean. You in there dog, until we meet again. All hail King S. Dot.
If you would like to donate to Sean’s family please do so here. Every little bit helps.