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James Gandolfini – this one hurts

James Gandolfini, left, Steven Van Zandt and Tony Sirico, right, members of the cast of the HBO cable television mob drama "The Sopranos." HBO and the managers for Gandolfini say the actor died Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Italy. He was 51. (AP Photo/HBO,Craig Blankenhorn)

Dori writes…

I was coaching summer league basketball games Wednesday night. When I got home, my wife asked me if I was going to watch our “Sopranos” DVD’s this evening.

I gave her a confused look – that’s when she told me that James Gandolfini had died from a massive heart attack at the age of 51.

She knew how much this news would bother me – and it did. More than I ever could have guessed.

I don’t know why it hit me so hard. I guess it could be because he and I are… were… the same age.

Or because I consider Tony Soprano the greatest character in television history.

Or maybe it was just simply appreciation for all the enjoyment Gandolfini’s masterful portrayal provided over the seven years “The Sopranos” was on the air.

How is it possible that so many of us could care so much about a TV character who was so deeply flawed? Tony Soprano was someone who we knew was inherently evil, but we still rooted for him. We despised his values, but we wanted to be a bit like him.

Sunday nights haven’t been the same since Tony and Carmela and AJ and Meadow faded to black six years ago. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” will always take me back to that Jersey diner.

Celebrity deaths generally don’t have much of an impact on me – I was surprised at how deeply I felt this news. Gandolfini’s family will be in my prayers.

What celebrity death had a major impact on you? Let me know in the comments below – and we’ll talk about that on Thursday’s show.

Read more:
Actor James Gandolfini dies in Italy at age 51
Death of ‘Sopranos’ star James Gandolfini hits hard
Photos: Actor James Gandolfini

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