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Stunned by a toddler’s death

Showing I’m as much in the little box we could call Lakerdom, or Clipper Nation, or fans of any team in any town, I didn’t set out to do it.

I was thinking about Tuesday night’s Lakers game against the Bulls, which I was assigned to cover, what it meant, what I could say about it when it struck me.

A 2-year-old boy died in Staples Center at a Lakers game not 48 hours before.

As storied as the arena has become in its 11 years, nothing that important ever happened there.

No NBA Finals game. No Bruce Springsteen concert. No Grammys.

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I don’t know how Lucas Tang fell to his death from a third-level luxury suite after Sunday’s game. The only thing I know about Lucas himself is he was 2 years old.

What else do you need to know?

A 2-year-old died at a Lakers game.

It’s one of those moments that puts everything in perspective...

That’s what we always say, after which life goes back to the way it was, with everyone in Staples living and dying with Lakers’ fortunes.

Today, like all days, you can go online and see athletes trashed, denounced and cursed and fans raging at each other on the athletes’ behalf.

It’s what we call “passion” and it lights up our lives. I make a nice living out of it myself.

I write stuff like that all the time ... people living and dying with their teams, the passion lighting up their lives ... and it’s total bull.

We just saw living and dying. It has nothing to do with winning a game or an NBA title.

So we have moments of silence, as the Lakers had for Lucas before Tuesday’s game.

We promise never to forget him and dedicate this and that to his memory.

It doesn’t change the fact that Lucas’ life ended, and his loved ones are living the nightmare of everyone with loved ones.

How can it be?

In any medium with a mass audience — basketball game, newspaper, TV network — something tens of thousands, or hundreds of millions care about as a pastime has impact exponentially beyond something a few people care everything about.

Thus, major league sports, with their worldwide impact ... and no importance at all, aside from the fact their incredible impact makes them an incredible economic force.

If hard questions must be answered about Lucas’ death, it’s not my place and beyond my competence, apart from the unasked question in everyone’s mind.

There may be a parent somewhere who has never looked away for a moment and lost any of his children.

I’m not one. I lost my daughter, then about 6, for 30 minutes in the endless cruise at a water park, while she went to our prearranged rendezvous point, and left before I got there, and the park people told me they didn’t make announcements.

Among the blessings my daughter brought us is her preternatural calm. She just went back to the endless cruise and rode her inner tube until I found her, or she found me.

For everyone who found their kids so they can take them to games, or just drive them to school, we’re luckier than we know.

Remember that when you think of Lucas, and think of Lucas a lot.

mark.heisler@latimes.com


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