With a heavy heart and grateful spirit, I join with countless local and global neighbors who are celebrating the life of Larry King — who passed away earlier today.

Larry was a good man, who used his voice and public platform to share both information and inspiration with integrity. He had a wry sense of humor, and didn’t hesitate to ask the questions that “inquiring minds” wanted to hear about, but he also respected the lines that divide personal curiosity and good journalism (and he was generally considerate of the “who” characteristics and preferences of guests — such as age or personal lines to cross or not during an interview).

For many folks, the April 2002 Larry King Live show was the “when and where and how” they first “met Mattie J.T. Stepanek” as the news talk show host interviewed a small-statured and King-style suspender’d 11-year-old poet who aspired to be “a peacemaker for all, by sharing the things that really matter.” When that show was nominated for an Emmy, Larry called Mattie and invited him to attend the award ceremony, and accept the honor with him should they win. (NOTE: that show didn’t win, but another Mattie show did — “The Magic of Mattie” with Chris Cuomo 🙂).

Larry was deeply moved by Mattie’s sincere aspiration to shape and share messages of hope and peace that would move people “from attitude to action” in rebuilding the “mosaic of humanity.” Across the years, Larry brought Mattie onto his show many (many, many) times to exchange ideas about everything from embracing purpose and making good choices – for oneself and for our world, to celebrating Heartsongs and considering the existence of Angels. Beyond the show, they shared a lifelong friendship and mutual respect for each other’s way of touching the world. (They also shared a wry wit and great sense of humor). Larry frequently reminded Mattie that he regularly shared his poetry and essays with colleagues and family and friends because they were such clearly offered words that could lead to “achieveable and sustainable peace.”

After Mattie died in 2002, Larry was one of the first to use his media platform to break the news to the world, and to also remind viewers about Mattie’s ongoing purpose in this world, saying “today, the world lost a giant” but we still have his words and message and Heartsongs, and “this kid makes more sense than many of our world leaders.” In ongoing years, Larry continued to celebrate and share Mattie’s life and message – at work and home and in the community – with re-aired clips, with presence at Mattie-related events, and with invitations for me (Mattie’s mom / Mama Peace) to come on his show and continue the conversation about things that matter.

Today, the world lost another giant. My condolences go out for his closest family members and friends, and my prayers of gratitude go up for all those who loved, or admired, or respected Larry King, and who pause for a moment (or more) to reflect on the essence of this man, and to respond to this loss by sharing a message – with integrity and clarity and honesty – of hope, and peace, and purpose – about the things that matter, for good.

Remember to play after every storm!”
— Mattie J.T. Stepanek

With peace,
Jeni Stepanek, PhD