NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – Grant Wahl was remembered Wednesday as a sportswriter, a man who sought social justice and a mentor who left lasting lessons with family and friends.
Wahl died at the age of 49 due to an aortic aneurysm on 10 December while covering a match between Argentina and the Netherlands at the World Cup. A funeral held at the Times Center on Wednesday turned into a two-hour celebration where his life was remembered with hundreds of people in attendance, including colleagues and football officials.
“Grant and I were almost kids when we met at Princeton,” said his wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, her voice breaking. “I was 18 and he was 21. In fact, he only left the country twice, both times to Argentina. But the more I amused myself with his provincial character in those days, the more it revealed something about him, this curiosity about the world.
Wahl grew up in Mission, a Kansas City suburb, graduated from Princeton in 1996 and became a fact-checker for Sports Illustrated magazine. He was promoted to reporter and covered basketball and football.
In the end, he chose the latter sport.
“Grant actually wrote to Sports Illustrated when he was finishing elementary school to say, ‘My name is Grant Wahl, and I want to write for your magazine,'” his brother Eric recalled. “And she got a response that went something like this: ‘Dear Grant. Thanks for your letter. That’s great. Keep writing’. The fact that she got a response really stuck with her.”
Wahl remained with the magazine until 2021, after which he created his own website and Planet Fútbol podcast.
A defender of LGBTQ+ rights and critic of social injustice, Wahl criticized the organizers of the World Cup in Qatar for their treatment of migrant workers in the country.