HOUSTON (AP) — Christopher Duncan, a sports reporter for The Associated Press who covered the Houston Texans, Houston Rockets and the Kentucky Derby, has died at the age of 43.
A Harris County sheriff's deputy confirmed the death on Monday night. Duncan was found at his home, and a cause of death wasn't released. He had recently returned to work after a kidney transplant.
Duncan was a 20-year AP employee who started with the news cooperative as an editorial assistant in 1994 in Louisville, Kentucky. He worked in Raleigh, North Carolina, before returning to Louisville and moving to Houston in 2005.
"Our deepest sympathies go to all of Chris' friends and family. He set an example for all of us during his health battle over the past several months," said Lou Ferrara, AP's managing editor for sports.
Duncan joined the AP's sports department in 2009, taking on a beat that included coverage of the NFL's Texans and the NBA's Rockets.
"I loved Chris because I could assign him to anything and just knew he would do a great job," said Dave Zelio, the AP's assistant sports editor for Texas and the middle of the country. "He took his job seriously and personally. He wanted his stories to be the best out there."
Duncan penned numerous features, from a retrospective on the aging Astrodome to jockeys frantically adding sponsors' logos to their pants after winning a fight to wear advertisements during the Kentucky Derby.
He was at his best when the story was breaking, and there were many: The Astros firing a manager, Yao Ming's closely watched career with the Rockets, a 22-game NBA winning streak. A day care that was on fire, with children inside.
According to The Living Bank transplant organization, Duncan received a kidney transplant in December 2013 from a friend after posting about a condition on Facebook. He returned to work in early August and the first story he wrote was about a Rice football player, Drew Carroll, who had been forced to quit playing because of a kidney disease.
"Chris just loved doing that story," Zelio said. "He felt awful for the player and couldn't get over the irony. He thought it was the perfect way for him to come back."