ST. LOUIS -- As the Los Angeles Dodgers got ready to board their team bus Thursday night and head home after an eight-game road trip, Matt Kemp sat quietly at his locker, staring at his phone and collecting his thoughts.
Before the game, Kemp was supposed to call Joshua Jones, the terminally ill Dodgers fan he befriended three months ago in San Francisco. But Kemp found out Wednesday after batting practice that Jones had died Tuesday night. He was 19.
"I'm just glad I was able to meet him," Kemp told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I'm glad I was able to do what I did for him before he passed. I knew his situation. I knew it was going to come. I didn't know it was going to come this soon."
Kemp first met Jones after a May 5 game against the San Francisco Giants when he walked over to Jones, sitting along the third-base line, and autographed his baseball. He then proceeded to take off his hat, jersey and shoes and put them on Jones' lap as his friend recorded the encounter.
The video quickly went viral, garnering more than 3 million views.
Later that month, Kemp flew Jones and his family to Los Angeles to watch the Dodgers play the Los Angeles Angels. Jones was able to meet Kemp and his teammates before the game on the field and take pictures with several players, including Clayton Kershaw, who gave Jones a signed bat.
"I was actually supposed to call him here," Kemp said. "They were telling me his story and telling me he didn't have too much time left, and I was supposed to call him. ... I didn't find out until sometime after BP."
Kemp was visibly moved as he spoke about Jones on Thursday night, still in disbelief that his friend had died before he was able to talk to him one last time.
"He did have an impact on my life, and I'm sure on a lot of other people's lives, especially when the story went around YouTube," Kemp said. "I'm just glad I got to meet him and do what I did for him. I'm glad he got to come on the field and meet all the players and see a Dodger game. It was very exciting for me to do that for him, and I'm glad I could before he passed."