At the Daily News, Jose covered everything from a mall shootout to Allen Iverson's wedding to a profile of Ringo Starr.
There was something else I found somewhat courageous back then about Jose: He was openly gay with seeming little regard to whether that might hurt his career.
Maybe for that reason, it wouldn't have occurred to me that he was also keeping a secret during his summer in Philadelphia, but he was.
Jose Antonio Vargas - who came to America from the Philippines at age 12 in 1993 - is an undocumented immigrant.
He writes about his experience in this Sunday's issue of the New York Times Magazine:
"On the surface, I've created a good life. I've lived the American dream. But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. . . . It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.
"Last year I read about four students who walked from Miami to Washington to lobby for the Dream Act, a nearly decade-old immigration bill that would provide a path to legal permanent residency for young people who have been educated in this country. At the risk of deportation - the Obama administration has deported almost 800,000 people in the last two years - they are speaking out. Their courage has inspired me."
I would say the same thing about Jose - I consider it a great honor to have worked with him and to have been a friend. Like millions of other young people in the United States, he was not responsible for the circumstances that made him an undocumented immigrant, and over time he has done everything America could have asked of him and more.
It's immoral that our leaders will not pass the Dream Act to create a clear path to citizenship for young people like Jose. I hope his brave disclosure will help a few more people to realize that.
Read more from Will Bunch at Attytood.com.