I’m at a loss for words over this story, Joe was a friend, and a close friend of my brother Steve and his family, doing everything that young families do together. He was one of the most generous guys I ever met, and someone you learned something from every time you ran into him. He’s well known around SGV youth sports, and played for Duarte’s High School’s 1992 football team that advanced to the CIF championship. He worked with Magic Johnson and married his high school sweetheart Debbie, has three kids and another on the way. He was living the American Dream and was as humble a man you ever meet. We’re gonna miss you Joe, God Bless and Rest in Peace.
By Rebecca Kimlich
When West Covina resident Joe Lopez learned around Thanksgiving that his wife was pregnant with their fourth child, he was thrilled, according to his close friend Steve Robledo.
“We have four children, and he used to look at us and say `we would love a family like that,”‘ Robledo said. “So when they found out, he was really excited to tell us. He told us, joking, `we finally caught you Steve.”‘
Lopez was killed Sunday in a motorcycle crash during a race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. He was 32.
Friends and family members said Lopez died doing what he loved. He was racing a Suzuki 600 Superbike during a novice race when he crashed into a safety barrier a little after noon Sunday. He died less than an hour later.
The event was the first time Lopez had raced in such a large venue. His wife, three children, cousins and uncle were there to support him, his brother George Lopez said.
“That was a big one for him,” he said.
Though motorcycles were a passion, Lopez had many loves, family and friends said.
He was also a coach, a computer programmer, a business owner, an entrepreneur, a huge USC fan, and, above all, a husband to his high school sweetheart and a father, George said.
“He was full of life. He was a dreamer, a thinker, the smartest one in our family. He got straight As. He had a ton of friends. Everybody loved him. He had so much going for him,” he said.
He was known for his generosity, open home and eagerness to bring family and friends together.
“He was the kind of guy who didn’t let you spend a dime at dinner,” Robledo said. “He is someone who just never said no to anybody.”
Among the stream of people who have been expressing their condolences to the Lopez family was basketball legend Magic Johnson.
Lopez met Johnson while doing computer consulting work for him through the company Lopez owned – West Covina-based Adaptive Information Technology Solutions.
Lopez eventually combined two of his interests when he convinced Johnson to start an American Motorcyclist Association superbike team. Lopez was in the process of finding sponsors, George said.
“He had just gotten the go-ahead for this team, which was going to rival a team owned by Michael Jordan. It was all he could talk about lately,” Robledo said.
Johnson and his family visited with the Lopezes for several hours Monday. The famed former Laker star plans to set up a scholarship fund in Lopez’s name “targeting Latino minds like Joe’s,” George said.
Johnson also said he was committed to going through with the motorcycle team.
“We are going to keep this going for Joe,” George said.
Lopez grew up in Duarte, where his parents still live. He is the second oldest of three brothers and one sister.
He went to Duarte High School, where as a running back he helped take the team on a rare trip to the CIF-SS finals.
While there, he also met his future wife, Debbie Lopez.
“They went to prom together, winter formals. They were so happy,” George said.
The two are parents of one son, 13, and two daughters, 10 and 1. Lopez spent much of his free time coaching his kid’s soccer, baseball and football teams in the area.
“(Debbie) is struggling … he was her everything. And having a little one doesn’t help,” Robledo said. “He did everything for his family.”
The whole family is having a difficult time, George said.
“They are strong kids though,” he said. “The middle daughter is a little trooper, I haven’t seen one tear from her eye. She is trying to keep strong for her mom.”
The family has set up an account at Wells Fargo Bank in Lopez’s name.
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