Los Angeles Dodgers Star Pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s Mother Passes Away

Here at the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState, while we do take sports seriously, we also know that, in the end, it’s just a game. It’s great when your team wins, and it sucks when they lose. But, in either case, life continues.


Sometimes, however, real life insists on inserting itself into the equation. Such was the occasion on May 14 — Mother’s Day — when a story crossed the wires about Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s mother Marianne having passed away on May 13. One can only imagine how the timing amplified Kershaw’s grief.

Life is full of bitter little twists and ironies. Just a couple of weeks ago, this tweet came to attention.

Sports rivalries are familiar. In baseball, the Padres and the Dodgers are natural rivals based on geographic location. Traffic permitting — which it seldom does — it’s less than a two-hour drive on the 5 between Los Angeles and San Diego. It’s usually at least double that, of course.

Since the Padres came into existence in 1969, the two teams’ relative success levels have been decidedly one-sided in the Blue Crew’s favor. The Dodgers have won three World Series, eight pennants, and 20 division championships. The Padres have won zero World Series, two pennants, and five division championships. San Diego has finished the season with a .500 or better record two times fewer than Los Angeles has won the division. Oops.

Now, trolling the opposition is hardly a new phenomenon. With social media’s advent, it’s almost become mandatory. It’s not if but how many stories you’ll see on ESPN and elsewhere of how a winning team “savagely“ trolled the other team on social media after a victory, especially if it’s in the postseason. And, in the only postseason meeting between the Dodgers and Padres, which took place last year, the Padres did come out on top. However, they then lost to the surprising Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series.


Going after a specific player on the other team comes off as tasteless, especially when the player is a true superstar. Kershaw will undoubtedly go into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot. He has been one of the single most dominant pitchers of his era. The only mark against his record, that being limited success in the postseason, which, as noted, he routinely reaches along with his Dodgers teammates, was swept away in 2020 when he won the World Series.

We often forget that there are human beings underneath uniforms — even, much to some people’s surprise, the other team’s uniform. Athletes are taught from the get-go not to listen to the other team or their fans. Block out distractions, jeering, and catcalls; block out your head noise and any doubts you have regarding your ability to get the job done. You deserve to be there. You can do this. You will do this. Now do it.

The article about Kershaw’s mother’s death notes how, after she and his father divorced, she was a primary influencing factor in being the baseball equivalent of a soccer mom, carefully keeping score of each game her son pitched to calm her nerves and pushing him on to reap the full benefits of his immense talent. Kershaw and his wife have four children. The family’s charity work is extensive.

It’s sweatshirt weather on a Thursday night in early November, and the backyard at The Rustic is decorated like a Yellowstone set, dotted with hay bales and Pendleton blankets. Darius Rucker, the Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer turned country music star, plays to a crowd of about a thousand people straddling the line between Dallas chic and Old West theme park—Stetsons and puffer vests, cowboy boots and faux leather.

This is KC Live, the Dallas flagship event of Kershaw’s Challenge. For eight years, the benefit concert has raised money for a rotating cast of charities. The organization has evolved since its founding in 2011, when it raised money to build an orphanage in Zambia. Africa had captured Ellen’s heart ever since she watched an Oprah special about poverty on the continent as a teenager and made her first mission trip to Zambia at 18 years old.

“In the beginning,” Ellen says, “we were using his platform for my passion.”

By the end of the night, they’ll have raised $1.8 million, part of $3.2 million total raised in fiscal year 2022. Both are new records, according to sister Ann, the charity’s executive director. In the years since its founding, Kershaw’s Challenge has ballooned to work with organizations in Dallas, Los Angeles, Africa, and the Dominican Republic, the latter of which was driven by Clayton after years of bonding with Latin American teammates.

That’s in addition to the Kershaw Foundation, which is directly backed by the couple’s income and funds grants to a network of charities benefiting similar causes. The Kershaws pay all overhead to maintain the two organizations so that every donated penny—including their own annual contribution to Kershaw’s Challenge—can go to charity instead of expenses.

This, the Kershaws believe, is their purpose: the reason why Clayton was blessed with otherworldly talent, the reason they were brought together, and the reason they now possess such wealth.


The “first time without,“ whether it is a public holiday, or a more private observation such as a birthday or anniversary, isn’t nearly as bad as people who have yet to experience this thing believe it to be. It’s about 15 times worse and doesn’t get much easier as the years go on. Hopefully, we become more adept at dealing with the loss. But you never get over the loss. You get through it. And at times, it hurts like hell.

In yet another bitter, ironic twist that sports often provide, the Dodgers happened to be playing the Padres when Kershaw’s mother passed away. For the record, they swept the Padres in the three-game series. So how’s that scoreboard troll looking now, San Diego?

Something that may surprise many who have yet to suffer the agony of losing a loved one is that Kershaw will make his next scheduled start on May 16, only then going on bereavement leave. Those of us who have suffered loss — I speak as someone whose parents and two of his three brothers have passed away — understand that work therapy is not a myth. Even as the routine fades in importance, embracing the daily is necessary. It will be going through the motions for a time, yet diving into it provides a much-needed distraction from those first few blinding days of loss.

Our sympathies go to Clayton Kershaw over his loss. Kershaw is a man of deep Christian faith, which will undoubtedly give him comfort in the coming days. Believers know that death on this planet is not the end but a transition to new and eternal life. Still, nothing compensates for the loss; the void left behind by those once here, yet here no longer.


Oh, and San Diego Padres? Before you troll a member of the other team, try winning something first.


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