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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saddest News

Alan Bryant passed away, very suddenly, at Methodist University Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, on June 14, 2011.  On June 9th, 2011, Alan was struck with a rare congenital heart condition, aortic dissection.  After a four-day battle to recover from perilous open-heart surgery, cardiac arrests, and major organ failure, Alan looked very peaceful as he passed away.

Alan, age 39, was a fiercely loyal (and hilarious) Senior Manager for the Grizzlies NBA team, which he served since 1998, first in Vancouver, then Memphis.  His office was always the central hub for team employees.  During Memphis Grizzlies’ games, Alan ran all the music and sound effects at FedExForum.  Living in Memphis for the past decade, Alan also owned property in his hometown of Victoria, and in Qualicum Beach.  

Wherever he went, Alan made people smile and laugh.  His legendary generosity inspired countless acts of kindness, during his final days, from friends around the world.  And will ever do so, in his memory.

Loving and devoted son of Margaret and Ray, brother to Janine and Michael, and favourite uncle to Matthew, Hayley, Sadie and Louie.  Truly beloved by his legions of friends from BC and Memphis.  Donations may be sent to MS Society of Canada, in tribute to his mom, an heroic MS survivor, or to Methodist University Hospital in Memphis.  Funeral arrangements in Victoria, and a memorial in Memphis, will be announced shortly.


  1. He holds and always will hold a part of my heart.. some of my favorite and wonderful memories are with Al - I wouldn't be the same person today if he hadn't been in my life when we where young, He will be cherished and missed and loved forever by me and many many many people... all my love to you and your family.

  2. You will be missed my friend. Thanks for all the wonderful memories growing up. You have always been there for me and my family and we will always be so grateful. You were considered family in the Olcen household. I will miss you tremendously "Big Al". My heart goes out to Margaret, Ray, and family. Sincerely, Stef Olcen and Family

  3. Saddest of news .. I certainly feel honored and privileged to have known him ..
    Big Al had a personality larger than life .. so many great memories are flooding back right now .. they bring with them a smile to my face and a tear to my eyes.
    You will be missed
    Dan Caley

  4. I'll remember Al as a dreamer who had the courage to follow his dreams. Wanting a career in sports, Al was prepared to get his start by working for the concessionnaire and serving lunch to full-time Orca Bay staff. With his foot in the door, Al's wonderful personality and quiet determination took over from there.

    Thanks to the courage he showed as a young man, I had the pleasure of knowing Al. I'll miss him.

    May God bless Al Bryant.

    Steve Smith

  5. I was so sad when I heard this news. I had just been talking about Al with Caroly, Erin and Alison, over the weekend. We shared some fun memories of Mt. Doug and Al was always part of them. I had not seen him for a long time but he will be missed. He was one of my best friends in high school.


  6. When I think of all the fun times Al and I shared - and there were millions - each one is punctuated with a laugh. He was my oldest friend, and since the age of 6 has been one of my dearest and most valuable.

    To say he will be missed is not saying enough. His passing leaves a huge void in the lives of those of who met him, even for a minute. Big Shooter was one of the best, an all-star as a friend and an MVP to the rest of his family, who supported him to the end.

    My heart goes out to Margaret and Ray, Michael and Janine, and their families. Al was loved deeply by us all. I will remember him as one of the greatest guys any of us had the pleasure of knowing.

    Mike Devlin

  7. Al was truly one of the most special people I have ever had the privilege of meeting and feel honoured to be able to call him my friend.

    He had such a genuine and kind nature and always took an interest in myself and my family. After meeting my wife and kids, they were immediately drawn to his engaging, fun loving and infectious personality. He was larger than life and will be forever missed.

    I will never forget the incredible friendships growing up and value our time together that helped shape who I am today. I will forever cherish those and carry them with me wherever I go.

    My love, support and thoughts go out to Marg, Ray, Michael and Janine.
    I love you Al and always will,
    Richard Fast

  8. I fondly remember Big Al being one of the funniest, kindest people I knew in high school. His sudden passing reminds us to seize the day & live life to the fullest. He would have expected no less of us. My deepest condolences to Margaret, Ray & loved ones.

    You will be dearly missed Al.
    May you rest in peace.

    ~Lisa Maxine Kjernisted

  9. I have some great memories of Al. Although, I left Victoria just as we headed into grade 9, I was very fortunate to have known Al thru the Fairburn years. I can remember the swims in the pool, the pillow fights, Late Night with Letterman—most of all though, the way the guy made me laugh. The thought of him...just brings a smile to your face. His great spirit was contagious and anyone who spent any length of time with Al, knows that.

    I knew that Al had followed his dream down to Memphis and I was not at all surprised that he was doing what he loved.

    My deepest sympathies and condolences to all the Bryant family and friends.

    Tim Morgan

  10. I really love these tributes, everyone. Means a lot to the family.

    Mike Bryant

  11. I will forever be grateful for being a close friend with Al. From the early days of our youth,growing up in the olsen garage up until this tragic event, Al was as good as a friend as you could ask for. Our too far brief time together will be cherished. Al was always there for support or to lend advice when you needed him. Al's generousity and unique ability to always make you laugh and put a smile on your face whenever you talked with him was just another of he many things that made him so special. You can see from this blog Al touched everyone he came into contact with. He was just that kind of guy. One thing I can say about Al is he followed his dream and he lived his life his way. I respect you for that my friend. You will be sorely missed "Big Al" but forever in my heart and thoughts. My condolances go out to Margaret, Ray and the rest of the Bryant family.
    Steve Thomson

  12. I started at a new school, knew only 2 people, but there was Big Al. He instantly made me feel like I had always been one of his friends. Over the next few years he did become one of my bestfriends ever. This makes me think of so many things. 1 bite sundaes, pool in the garage, long lunches in the pool, sunday mornings at O'Donalds [I want a sticky bun]. These are all among the best memories I have. Then we grew up. You made a good roommate, lots of free pizza. Not only were you my best man, you were the BESTMAN. My memory of you will always be happy, as that is what you did, make people happy. Ray and Margaret I'm thinking of all of you, I'm so sorry for your loss.
    Jonathan Skelly.

  13. Good friends are never forgotten, and I will not forget Al. I considered him one of my best childhood friends and have fond memories of playdates, sleepovers and the big screen TV (it was HUGE back then!). I enjoyed being a part of the Bryant household during those early years (despite Trixie doing her best to keep me at bay :0) Al will always hold a special place in my heart. My deepest sympathies to Marg, Ray, Janine, Mike and the rest of the family. You are in my thoughts.
    Donna (Stenton) Friedlander

  14. Mike, I didn't know your bro, but it saddens me to hear of this loss for you , your family and friends.
    Sympathy , thoughts and wishes to you all.
    Dave Auger

  15. Such a shock to hear of his passing. Al and I worked the 2010 Vancouver Olympics together at GM place. (Canada Hockey Place) We became great friends and have kept in touch since. My sincerest sympathies to his family and loved ones. He is a fantastic guy and I will always cherish my memories of him.

    Micah J. Day

  16. Chris Duquette sends this from Thailand:

    This is such a difficult situation to process right now but the poignancy of the comments written here helps a great deal. So much of what has already been said articulates the feelings I have in my head that I now struggle to put on paper. Thanks very much to all of you!

    With a wit and a sharpness of mind like no other, Al could and did win so many of us over. His ability to understand people individually and to relate to them in a way that made them feel special was so unique. His ability to come out of nowhere with something that would make you laugh your ass off was legendary. I love the guy so much. Looking back on the years, Al is at the forefront of so many cherished memories and was there with me stumbling through many steps in the trial and error process of growing up. Without him, there would be a lot of pages missing in the history book of my life. Through him, so many of us are and will remain connected.

    My heart goes out to the Bryant family. You opened your hearts and your home to so many of us over the years and we will be forever grateful. The friendship of your son is a gift that will last us all a lifetime. So long, Big Al. Gone but never, ever forgotten.

    Chris Duquette

  17. ALON my man
    Crushing news to hear that you have left us so early. The impact that you made on so many lives in your short time with us is amazing. From the early days at Fairburn and GH Little League to winning the BC's as Arbutus Aztecs and on to Mt. Doug. Your love for the game of basketball and your drive to work in the NBA always inspired me to follow my heart as well. I know that Patrick Ewing would have been impressed with your dedication to the game. I will always remember the Pizza Hut hotline in the Bryant house and excursions in the Sable and Acura were always memorable. You leave a big hole in the hearts of many, but your laugh, your smile and your ability make people feel welcome will always be remembered. My condolences to Margaret, Ray and the rest of the Bryant Family.

    Brent Dobbie

  18. Shame on me for not reconnecting with the always wonderful Bryant family and Big Al before something like this happened. I truly would have relished the oppourtunity to meet up Al one more time even for a brief moment. Growing up with Al and the Bryant family gave me many dreams and inspirations and showed me a life I didn't know existed. I am horribly sad to hear this news. My utmost sincere condolences go out to the Bryant family for this loss. Lee Lepsenyi

  19. My heart goes out to the Bryant family. I fondly remember Big Al and our days at Fairburn quite often. Friendships like that from those days are not ever forgotten due to lives going different ways and stay with us forever. Al brought a quality to my life that has stuck with me all this time. The Birthday pool parties, playing Intellivision football on the Big Screen TV, football in the school yard where Big Al was untouchable and just the general fun in class, probably too much has some led to detentions. Never forget, always remember...Thanks Al, miss you.

  20. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and memories. It means so much to the family to hear your stories and reflections. I know that he cherished his friendship with each of you. He was a man who lived larger than life and he was a co-conspirator in many Gordon Head misadventures. To our family, he was not only a brother to me, a brother-in-law to Bob and an incredible uncle to Matt and Hayley, he was also a dear friend.

    - Janine Bryant Roy

  21. Very few people can make you laugh with just a simple facial expression.
    Alan, you were one of a kind and kept me laughing all the time! You made my time with the Vancouver and Memphis Grizzlies way more fun just by being there. You were a quiet, hilarious and thoughtful man.
    The world has lost a great man. I will miss you so much. My heart goes out to Alan's family and friends during this difficult time. xoxo

  22. To the Bryant family, I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers and thoughts are with you through this difficult time. My time with Al was during Fairburn and Mount Doug. As a young kid learning a new lanuage and new to the country Al was facinating...keeping the class laughing and was always facinated with his firey hair. I truely believe when friendships are made -they are forever. Even though as we got older in school our paths moved in different directions but there was always the smile, a wink and a nod.

    Friendships last forever. High Five Al!

    Jen Loo

  23. There only a few in my circle and AB was one of them. Every morning as I walked to go make coffee, I would sit and chat with him. He has been trying to get me to go to Vancouver for 5 years now. Others would have stop asking or even telling me about the beautiful sites. But Al, not Al. He wanted me to go out and visited other locations. Not just Memphis and the surrounding areas but just enjoy myself. Al always asked me about my boys and what they were doing. He always told me "You keep them in something at all times." And I have. I am going to miss you dearly. Coffee will never be the same without.

  24. The Grizzlies will never be the same without Al. He was a friend to all. I was always thankful when Al was the person I had to call for something because I knew he would take care of it. He always made me laugh with his smart comments. I am thankful for the 10 years that I worked with him. He is already missed tremendously! My thoughts and prayers go out to his family! RIP my friend!!!

  25. The Bryant family will be in my prayers. AB was a very quiet yet gentle man that worked with at the Memphis Grizzlies. I will remember his smile and our endless humorous conversations about parking passes & tickets as I would get ready for a large ticket mail outs for the Suite/Club Box holders. AB will be missed. Davina

  26. I use to love going down to his office with all our crazy, last minute sponsor ticket requests. Al always made me laugh and it started before I walked in and saw him through the glass....because I knew what was coming! :) But the best was, because he knew I was a surfer and from Cali we talked a lot about the ocean and especially his pretty spot on Vancouver Island; he had some great pictures in his office too!! Miss you Al and did a ceremonial paddle out for you here on Monday! beautiful night with sun coming out after foggy morning, lots of dolphins out past the kelp beds, and sending great thoughts through the Pacific to you and your family up north! Pat Merna, Memphis Grizzlies 2003-2008.

  27. Not many days go by in our house (married to Mike Devlin) that do not include wild, "adventurous" and most of all funny stories of Al Bryant. He was a huge part of and support in my husbands life and in turn, a good friend of mine. I believe his huge heart, incredibly selfless personality and his unyielding ambition are a true testament to the unconditional love he felt at home and in his life. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and all his friends, near and far. In his gentle way Al made an impact with everyone he met. He'll be with us wherever we go...

    This is an excerpt from a book Al surprised us with months before our first son was even born...
    "Guess how much I love you? I love you as high as I can hop, I love you all the way down the lane as far as the river, I love you across the river and over the hills, I love you right up to the moon."

    Thank you Al. You are loved by so many.

    Maggie, Jonah and Sadie aka MDs family

  28. I always looked forward to seeing Alan once a month when I cut his hair. I allowed him more time for his cut, not because he was picky, but because he was so fun to talk with. His sense of humor was the best. He would respond to everything with a dry hilarious statement. if I am feeling such loss for a person I only saw once a month for a few years, I can't imagine the depth of pain that his family and closest friends feel. The last time I cut his hair, he casually handed me 2 playoff tickets when I was through, and as usual, shrugged off my praise to him. I will forever see him leaving my shop for the last time laughing, of course, as he went out of the door. Natilee

  29. Michael and family, I was very sorry to hear about Alan. Although I only met Alan on a couple of occasions, he left a lasting impression with his contagious laugh, warm hearted character and calming presence. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Michael and your family. Love Joe & Anne

  30. There was and never will be another Al.I've known Al all my life through school and sport's.He is and was truely one of a kind.Everyone loved being around him.His charm and all around great personality was unmatched.My heart goes out to all Als family and friend's.We'll all miss you Big Al.

    -Darcy Greaves

  31. I remember the day that Alan arrived in my life, not long after he was born and then adopted, luckily, by our family. I was 6 years old but the memory is so vivid: walking in this sparse room and seeing that red hair for the first time, driving home in the car with baby Al in Mom's arms in the front seat (!), and then bringing him into our new home on Longview Drive, in Gordon Head, Victoria, BC. He kept scratching his eyes and I was pretty upset about this, so we put mitties on his tiny hands. Until my own kids were born, that day was the best moment of my life.
    I was holding his hand when he passed away, not unlike our first day together. It wasn't tiny anymore, but it was the same hand, same brother. For 39 years, those hands were generous, kind, gentle and perfect for high-5ing. Miss you bro.
    Michael Bryant

  32. Will never forget you buddy. Couldn't believe that anyone would move to Vancouver and take any job just to be closer to NBA basketball. That type of dedication and drive along with your infectious personality inspired me to be a better person. My thoughts and prayers go to your family. I missed you when the Grizzlies left Vancouver, and I will miss you even more now. May you rest in peace knowing that you inspired all of us.
    Jay Triano

  33. Those of us who made the pilgrimage from Vancouver to Memphis with the Grizzlies shared a unique and special experience. As a group we had a lot of fun, but also helped each other through personal and professional challenges. We were a family to each other when our families were all far away. Alan was a special member of the crew who seemed to always be in a good mood and truly appreciated the opportunity to work in professional sports. Everyone loved Al and he will be missed by all of us. The other night at Game 7 of the Canucks game I ran into so many people who had worked with Al over the years, everyone speaking of him fondly and remembering his gentle nature, passion for sports and wicked sense of humour. Tod Leiweke was at the game (visiting from Tampa) and he asked John Rocha and me to share a moment of silence for “our dear friend Big Al”. My sincere condolences to Al’s family and friends.

    Marla Taner
    Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies 1995-2005

  34. Big Al Bryant was truly one of a kind. Although it has been many years, Al and the Bryant family were a big part of my life growing up. The kindness and generosity of Big Al and the Bryant family is something that my family and I carry with us almost 30 years later. Like many who have posted on this blog, I will never forget the way Al and the Bryants welcomed us into their home. I vividly remember the pool parties, Intellivision on the biggest TV screen ever and jumping on Mike’s waterbed (sorry Mike!). What is great to hear is that through the years Big Al lived his life to the fullest, following his dreams while continuing to make a positive impact on those around him whether it was on the streets of Gordon Head, Vancouver or Memphis. Our thoughts go out to the Bryant family and we want you all to know how blessed we feel to have had Al in our lives. Brent Bundon

  35. Posted on behalf of Alan's parents, Ray and Margaret Bryant:

    Alan is a son to be proud of for his smile, his humour, his kindness and his wonderful presence in our lives. We just returned from Memphis where he was a Semnior Manager for the MBA team. His friends filled our minds and our hearts with their love and many touching and funny stories of Big Al. They gave him a royal Memphis send-off. We have brought his spirit back home to Victoria for a Celebration of Life at 2:00 at the Royal Victoria Golf Club on Saturday, June 25th with his friends and our friends of his lifetime.

    - Alan's Mom and Dad, Margaret and Ray Bryant

  36. I only knew Al for 1 month during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but to say he left a big impression on me is an understatement!! We spent many hours and days working side by side in the hockey arena and the laughs we shared will always be remembered. There's not enough Al's in the world!!

    Greg Wharf

  37. My heart goes out the entire Bryant family of whom it was always so evident where Al learned his generosity and love of life. "Lon" was a great great friend, supportive and ALWAYS there! I cherish many great memories but what will always stand out most for me is what a stand up man he was, with a generosity and sincerity that he shared easily and often. Loveable, hugable, smiling,,,ahh too early. Much love to you Lon, now and always. Carolyn Cooper

  38. My deepest sympathies to Al's family and friends. My heart aches for your loss. My memory of the first time Al and I met captures so much about him. Some years before Richard Fast and I were married, he arranged for he, Al and I to meet up for a drink. It was Christmas time and Rich and I were out shopping separately, so I showed up to the pub at the designated time on my own. Rich was delayed, for whatever reason, and so it ended up being just Al and I. We had never met, and yet his kind, attentive, generous nature made it seem like I'd known him for years. I'll never forget how easy it was to talk with him that afternoon, and how I laughed at all the crazy stories I heard he and Rich share each time Al visited us. Our kids were immediately drawn to his playfulness, warmth, and sincerity. I am grateful to have met him and to know how special he was and always will be. Thank you, Al.
    Maureen von Tigerstrom

  39. For two weeks I have been sitting here sifting through everyone's wonderful thoughts , trying to write my own. Reading all the beautiful comments about Al brought back some amazing memories. Al was the second person who spoke to me when I moved here in grade nine and attended Arbutus. Visions of that bright red hair, a faded jean jacket and a big smile still stick with me. Al was hence forth a great friend and I don't think I have a summer memory from grade 9-12 that doesn't involve him, his house and his gracious, welcoming parents. Al's sense of humor, his warmth and his way of making you feel so special when you spoke with him will stay with me forever. I will cherish these memories will always be missed. My deepest thoughts to your wonderful family. Jackie (always Jake to you Al) Cunningham

  40. My heart goes out to Marg, Ray and the whole family at this time. I was not privileged enough to know Alan in person, only through his namesake William Alan L. Higgins. I would often hear stories from ‘Papa Higgins’ (as we called him) about this great young man. One story which stands out is about painting the family swimming pool. As I recall, Alan was assigned this big task, but with the direction and help from Papa they completed it in no time. Papa was so proud to be working side by side with you Alan. Why just last week I was telling my own son about you and his Grandfather. Your story and memories live on….