Covered basketball over the past five decades, we interviewed, got to know, and simply couldn't help but love Bill Walton.

And each of us had tales to share. A top player in his prime. Linked with the Grateful Dead. A standout character. Personally, my favorite, with a distinctive twist, is up next.

I first encountered him during Thanksgiving week of 1990 when LSU basketball coach Dale Brown brought Walton in to assist the young Shaquille O’Neal.

As the LSU basketball beat writer for The Advocate, our local newspaper, that particular practice week held special significance.

We've searched everywhere, but can't find the photo of Kirk, then 8, rebounding for Walton and O’Neal, though he'd go on to play college basketball.

Moreover, Kirk's journey at Berry College prompted me to write HoopDaddy, a book delving into the relationships between fathers, sons, and basketball, which was published in 2005.

Lee was Jon’s brother, Greg, who passed away last year. Greg and Bill were close friends, often playing beach volleyball together with the Walton boys.