The Utah Jazz are no strangers to an iconic duo. Stockton and Malone reigned supreme for over a decade and a half in Utah. After Stockton and Malone, no one could have guessed that the Utah Jazz’s next iconic duo wouldn’t play on the court; instead they would light up every Jazz game by their friendly faces and iconic pink jerseys.
The pink grandmas became a staple of every Jazz game. Their legendary pink jerseys, white curly hair, and wonderful smiles made everything right in the world. During the post DWill-Boozer era, they were one of the most upbeat and positive signs at a game. The game might have been out of hand, but there they were, in their pink jerseys, cheering on the team.
They became so iconic that many gave their own homage to them.
Jazz nation we are here!!! @utahjazz @pinkgrandmas #takenote pic.twitter.com/klKPz4fcY7— Mitch Meyer (@mitch_meyer2) May 5, 2017
That’s why it’s heartbreaking that Keiko Mori, one half of the pink grandmas bid farewell to this world. As told by her granddaughter:
1/4 Heaven received a very special angel last night. It's hard to describe how much she will be missed. @pinkgrandmas pic.twitter.com/dUB7tN3o4B— Kamauri Yeh (@yehwho) August 18, 2017
2/4 To many, she was a @utahjazz @pinkgrandmas, but to us, she was the most special person who could warm any room with her smile & cookies. pic.twitter.com/JbaU4kILjp— Kamauri Yeh (@yehwho) August 18, 2017
3/4 I know she's smiling down in her pink jersey and still thinks Gordon Hayward stayed in Utah. Let's keep it that way. pic.twitter.com/DcKd6PEwsx— Kamauri Yeh (@yehwho) August 18, 2017
4/4 Love you always, grandma and am so proud to be your granddaughter. You're legacy will live on forever. #pinkgrandmas pic.twitter.com/n21N9xUSlg— Kamauri Yeh (@yehwho) August 18, 2017
As told by the Salt Lake Tribune:
Mori was born in Japan, but grew up in the farm town of Ely, Nev., from when she was a toddler. As a child, she dealt with racism stemming from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that sparked U.S. involvement in World War II, she told The Tribune this past spring, and she and her family lived under house arrest.
She lived much of her adult life in Murray, married to Jiro Mori (d. 2013), a decorated WWII veteran and an auto mechanic after his military service. She raised four children: Stephanie Mori-Nakao, Jerry Mori, Tom Mori and Theresa Sueoka. She also worked in the flight kitchen for United Airlines for 25 years.
Mori didn’t meet her fellow Pink Grandma until adulthood: Homma grew up in Japan, immigrating to the United States in the 1950s. But they became fast friends, and bonded in part over their love of cooking before finding another calling as Utah Jazz fans in the 1990s.
What a life this woman lived. They say to never meet your heroes, but Mori was one person that lived up to expectations.
We at the Dunk give our condolences and prayers to the Mori family. We will miss Keiko so much. She felt like our basketball grandma. When times were good in Jazz-land Keiko was there smiling. When times were rough Keiko was there to calm us during the storm. Even during a tumultuous offseason where the Jazz lost Hayward she brought positivity and warmth to a disappointing situation. We will miss her and we pray that Yeiko Homma, the other half of the pink grandmas, is able to find a partner for all the games next year.
With all the changes in Utah, this one hurts the most. We’ll miss her. Goodbye Grandma Mori. I’m sure Larry H. Miller was waiting for her with some excellent seats for next season that have a fantastic view. Tell Larry hi for us, Keiko. You will be missed.