The death of Evan Tanner shocked and saddened the MMA community. That day we lost a great champion. We lost a teacher and a hero. The news of his death was stunning for sure, but not particularly surprising and many observers seemed content with the theory that Tanner went into the Palo Verdes desert one year ago to die. That he was on a quest with no end, in search for something that could not be found on this earth. His last, and yet somehow still his first, adventure.
Some of that may be true, but on the one-year anniversary of his tragic end, Michael Chiappetta has taken a look back on the gloriously meager life of a dear friend and tells a story that few have heard. It’s not that of disappointment and self-loathing, or of a depressed man, lost and struggling with addiction. Instead Chiappetta offers a tale about a man on a mission, with a relentless curiosity for the unexplored. On the day he rode into the desert, Tanner was a man with dreams. He was thirsty for life, full of love, and he had plans for more.
Take a look at this excerpt from Chiappetta's FanHouse story for an idea of the descriptive insight he offers:
To do this, he was willing to go further than anyone else. He got on his motorcycle and rode, by himself mostly, and in the freezing cold or searing heat. He lived up north, down south and points east and west. He worked a series of menial jobs. He hiked, surfed, and camped. He fought in a cage. To truly learn something, after all, it was best to live it… But Tanner's life followed a different path. It always did, because there was always something new begging for his attention, something valuable to be learned around the next corner.
Tanner had a way of touching the lives of those who crossed his path and, with stories of his adventures, Chiappetta does the impossible and captures the essence of a human life that was truly special.
It’s a lengthy read, but worth every word. Print it out and take it home if you have to. There is something to be learned from Tanner’s life and, sadly, his death. To ignore it would be a crime. Obi-Wan said, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” Tanner may not have been a Jedi, but in death, his message lives on, more powerfully than he could have possibly imagined.