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Brendan Burke



I sincerely don’t know how to express the sorrow I feel for the Burke’s loss today.  I cannot begin to imagine the pain they must be feeling.

Brendan died last night after losing control of his Jeep on snowy roads in Indiana.

He first contacted me a few months back after a piece I wrote for USA Today struck a chord with him, and in turn, his story touched so many of us.  I’m proud I got to be a part of spreading his positive message.  I’m happy we got to have some laughs on the phone, and mostly, I’m just lucky to have got to know him the little bit I did.

My condolences go out to the Burkes – it’s a sad day for them, and the hockey community as a whole.  He will be missed.


UPDATE: To read the thoughts of how the death of Brendan affected just one of the many people who looked up to him so quickly, check out Mikey’s blog, a seventeen year old hockey player from Minnesota – he goes by hockeykidmn, and endures the struggles of being gay in a difficult sports culture.


27 Responses to “Brendan Burke”
  1. Travelchic59 says:

    Justin, take some solace in the fact that you gave Brendan a platform to come forward with his story. Even though he chose a more well-known venue in ESPN, you started the ball rolling with your USA Today article. My condolances to the Burke Family on their loss. Parents should never have to bury a child.

  2. Sherry says:

    Just found out about Brendan when I came to your blog this AM – how terribly sad. My heart goes out to the Burkes.

  3. Meg Jarrell says:

    This just broke my heart when I found out. The Burke family has had such a journey this year. I hope everyone keeps them in their prayers. Thanks for writing about Brendan, Jason.

  4. Meg Jarrell says:

    This just broke my heart when I found out. The Burke family has had such a journey this year. I hope everyone keeps them in their prayers. Thanks for writing about Brendan, Justin.

  5. Amanda says:

    I thought about you as soon as I heard. RIP.

  6. Karen From Rochester says:

    thanks for introducing Brendan to us, Justin. This just made me so sad when I checked the online news this morning. I am glad we got to know about Brendan through your article.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Fellow Bloggers,

    as a gay person who plays hockey and who grew up in a very conservative family and works in a very conservative industry, this story was an inspiration to me.

    For those of you who are straight, I cannot tell you the courage it takes to tell friends and/or family about yourself….especially when you do not know how they will react to the news. Brendan telling his father and his father’s reaction was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. It is what you hope will happen in every family.

    Even more courageous was telling the world this amazing story, risking telling people who don’t even know you just to prove that homosexuals are people too who have a place in society. Justin’s article at USA Today proved that there are still a lot of people out there who just don’t understand that who you are is what counts….not what you are.

    Justin, thank you for sharing that beautiful story and help bringing it to the world….Brendan will not be forgotten.

  8. Pete L says:

    I thought of you when I heard the news last night–even checked the blog to see if you touched on it. What a shame for the Burke family. Can’t even imagine their pain. His Dad stepped up and supported him in a manner that was truly heart warming a few months ago. Just a very sad, sad day.

  9. ann says:

    This is so very, very sad. Travelchic is right – parents should never have to bury their children. May memories of Brendan comfort the Burkes in their time of sorrow. His story touched so many hearts…. My condolences to the all of Brendan’s family and friends.

  10. jtbourne says:

    Brian can solace in the fact that he did the right thing and stood up for his son when his son needed him most.

  11. Madeleine says:

    This is just so sad, and I’m still in shock. I can’t imagine what they are going through and my thoughts go out to the Burkes. Brendan was a great asset to the gay and hockey communities, and he will be missed. Thank you Justin for helping bring his story to the world. And thank you Brian Burke for supporting your son when he needed you most. Most of all thank you Brendan for being who you were. You will be missed. RIP.

  12. lazydaisies4u says:

    Like many I thought of you when I heard the news last night. Thank you, Justin, for being the catalyst that helped get Brenden’s story to the world.

  13. lazydaisies4u says:

    …Brendan’s story has deeply touched me, and I can only imagine it touched so many others. May his story live on and inspire many homosexual athletes (and non-athletes alike) for many years to come. My thoughts and prayers are with the Burke’s and Reedy’s.

    (sorry, hit submit too soon!)

  14. Char says:

    The world is a poorer place without Brendan Burke. In his all-too-short 21 years, he undoubtedly did more good than we will ever know. May his honesty and courage be his legacy, and continue to comfort and inspire anyone who’s struggling with being “different.”

  15. Sherry says:

    Still feeling so sad about this – just hard to understand why things happen the way they do sometimes. Condolences too to the Reedy family as well.

  16. Tricia says:

    This is so sad. My condolences to the family and friends of Brendan and Mark. Its comforting to know that Brendan’s family knew and loved him for who he was, and that he had a family he could go to with anything.

  17. Madeleine says:

    The Leafs honoured Brendan last night with a beautiful moment of silence, and then by shutting out Ottawa 5-0. Makes me proud to be a Leafs fan.

  18. Endless Men says:

    our condolences Brendan Family, he is such an inspiration for us :(

  19. Ted says:

    As ridiculously sad as this is, it’s a reminder that you have to live life as who you are, not who people think you’re supposed to be.

    I am so grateful that Brendan was able to make the decisions he made when he did. He didn’t wait until he graduated or until he already had a professional job or anything like that. If he did, he wouldn’t have been able to touch the lives that he did.

  20. mikey says:

    this news just toly sucks. brendan is a hero to kids like me who play hockey in the closet n really have never known that there r other gay hockey players. its sad that he dint get to live longer being out n honest bout who he is. its sad that he dint get to be the nhl executive who changed the world for kids like me. mostly its sad that his family, n actly all of us lost him when he was so young. life is unfair

  21. Jimmy says:

    Well Mr. Bourne, I don’t what more I can say that I haven’t already said – or read – by others who feel the same profound loss. Brendan is my hero. His father is my hero (grrr).

    All I can add at this point is a simple prayer: Dear God, Please don’t work Brendan too hard. Thanks Big Guy!

  22. T M says:

    I just found your link through hockeykidmn site and I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it here: we often unfortunately don’t realize the true impact someone has made until it’s too late. Brendan’s loss is tragic. Not to mention his friend Mark. Any life loss is tragic, but when you see someone with such courage be taken from his family and those he’s had an influence on positively, it is so sad.

    Thank you Mr. Bourne for giving him the platform. I didn’t really deeply know the series of events intimately about how he ended up being featured in your column etc.

    I only actually got to see his tv interview AFTER his untimely passing. He truly was an inspiration to – specifically – young males and men of many age groups, whose passion is in the sporting world, but know the pain and stereotypical bias against gay men. Brendan’s efforts with support from his family, will pave the way for many inroads in the future. I just have this feeling that it will. Will it change the world today or tomorrow – No! But like many great journeys, you make accomplishments and progress one step at a time. Unfortunately, Brendan will not be here to see all the great accomplishments. It is unfair, but often unfortunately, alot in life is.

    I propose a toast – and I don’t really drink, so of a glass of juice or water whatever – to Brendan Burke. A Champion in his own way, a truly great hero. God Bless Brendan Burke. I’m sorry I never met you, but thank you for all you did. God Bless the Burke family and friends, and may they take comfort in knowing how many people are thinking of them, and how many people Brendan touched through his efforts.

  23. Madeleine says:

    Brian just talked about Brendan’s death, and the impact it had. He is committed to making the league a more open place. That made me cry.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] Burke was in the news earlier this season, when he came out in a column written by ESPN’s John Buccigross. This was spurred in part by a column by Justin Bourne in USA Today who wrote about the use of gay slurs in sports.  Bourne posted about Burke’s death on his blog this morning. [...]

  2. [...] Justin Bourne on Brendan Burke’s untimely death [...]

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