My late grandfather, Leonard Yanigan – after whom I was named (hence my middle name Len) – was born in 1916 in Staten Island, NY. He was a paper boy for the New York Times while growing up and later in life, carried that passion for journalism to Texas where he studied journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Poppa, as we affectionately called him, was my role model growing up. His intelligence and huge heart are something I strive to replicate in my personal and professional life. When I got a phone call earlier this week from the New York Times to photograph a freelance assignment for them, I nearly jumped out of my skin. He had been weighing on my heart heavily due to the Christmas season, and this felt like a Christmas present straight from him, as cheesy as that sounds.
It was a fun, stress-free assignment, as I drove out to east Kansas City to photograph former Chiefs player and NFL Hall-of-Famer, Bobby Bell. He's another inspirational man, who, after 52 years, went back and completed the necessary coursework to graduate from the University of Minnesota, having left school early for the NFL draft in 1963. In May, he will walk across the stage in Minneapolis and get his diploma.
Here are a couple photos I made of him and his wonderful wife, Pam.
You can read the accompanying story from the Times HERE.