Remembering Sean Cardovillis Going Back 30+ Years Ago.

Before Sean Cardovillis became the sports media icon that he was until his untimely death this morning he was a good friend. I knew Sean from high school where we met when I joined and he was a year ahead of me, as I recall. I can’t remember exactly when we started hanging out but I believe it was through mutual friends. Even then, his love of swimming and cycling were clearly important to him at the time and he excelled at both of these sports.

Since I was a boarder at the school, Sean invited me a few times to stay for the weekend at his home back then and he even invited me for a couple of parties as well as I recall. He didn’t have to but must have seen that I probably had boring weekends stuck in school so he clearly went out of his way to make them less so in this regard. Clearly, Sean was a great person, even back then. He was humble and generally got along with everyone.

As events would have it, Sean and I somehow ended up in school again together at University a couple of years later after we finished our A-Levels. Once again, somehow, in some of the same classes too there. I have memories of him sharing his cycling magazines and talking all the time about his hero Miguel Induráin who had won the Tour de France a few times. I also recall him and I heading out on his motorcycle on the weekends to parties as well as having drinks and lunches at various places after classes. Even then, he used to be so into sports that he regularly trained children how to swim competitively which helped him make some money on the side.

After our time in University, as is often the case, Sean and I drifted and lost touch until I moved back to Nairobi, just before the millennium when I got a chance to work here. Somehow, we reconnected and stayed in touch, on and off. In recent years, thanks to social media, I was able to see what he had been up to with all his sports updates of which rallying, football, and cycling seemed to feature prominently.

During the last couple of years or so, Sean had a spell of bad health and was even in hospital for over a month where he almost died. However, in recent months, Sean seemed to be on the mend and was cycling lots again, stopped drinking, lost a lot of weight, and was looking like he was back to his very best days from a health perspective.

Therefore, nothing could have prepared me today for the startling news that Sean had been found dead at his apartment building this morning. It simply did not seem real or logical when a mutual friend sent me a WhatsApp message with a link to the story. I double-checked and saw that several other local news websites had the same story, as well as seeing that his name was trending on Twitter. I have so many questions but the reality and extremely sad news is that Sean is no longer with us.

In the years that have passed Sean and I had not really been in touch much and we sort of bumped into each other infrequently. One thing I do know is that we often had great banter on social media where our mutual love and hate of all things Arsenal acted as a connecting thread of sorts even if we no longer had much else in common (he later supposedly decamped to supporting Manchester City but this still something we are not yet fully convinced about as he was a Gunner through and through!).

Sean’s big and lively personality will forever be a part of the legacy of sports media in Kenya and East Africa where he forged a formidable reputation as one of the best journalists in the space. His unmistakable voice boomed from our radios for many years and we will miss him for all that he was and all he could have been. Rest In Peace, Sean. Your life will always inspire us.

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