Evan Tanner died of exposure sometime between Wednesday and Monday in the Palo Verde mountains. His motorcycle ran out of gas and he tried to walk back to civilization. Somewhere between his camp and his goal, he died of exposure.
We joked about Evan dying in the desert. We even attempted to get odds on his chances of perishing out there. This wasn’t the first time we had talked about stuff like this. I dont think a month would go by without Evan brushing past death, via sinking boat or rolling jeep or motorcycle accident. I’m not sure if the guy had a death wish … he certainly seemed to recognize the risks of what he was up to before and after he took them. But time after time nothing happened other than another blog and another adventure. “The Adventures of Evan Tanner” were a popular feature around here.
I met Evan Tanner last month at a Freedom Fight event in Ottawa, Canada. He had come up to corner a friend, and I did some cornering of my own to get a quick snippit of an interview. One thing I realized about Evan that night is that while he loved his fans, he seemed to have a hard time dealing with their attention. After about 30 minutes of constant bombardment at ringside, Evan retreated into the back area of the arena, hiding from everyone. I spent about an hour near the end of the event recharging batteries in the hallway by the locker rooms. Evan was there too, wandering back and forth alone, occasionally posing for photos.
Evan Tanner was a drunk and an alcoholic. Many of the pseudo-obituaries on other pages have decided to ignore this fact, but I’m including it because I think it’s probably one of the most defining characteristics of his personality. For the two years he spent away from the UFC he drank himself nearly to death. Then he came to the point where a decision had to be made, and he chose life. He chose a day to stop drinking, and he did it: he stopped drinking. He worked towards returning to the UFC and he did it. He returned to the UFC. Even through his losses I found inspiration, because Evan had gone as far down the path of self-destruction as one can, and had made it back to tell the tale. Those who ignore that facet of Evan’s existence for reasons of political correctness are in the wrong. We don’t care about Evan Tanner in spite of his shortcomings. We cared about him because of his shortcomings.
I would never try to pretend that I have gone through even a fraction of the alcoholism that Evan has put himself through, but I have dealt with issues of my own surrounding drinking. When you feel like you can’t function around other people without a few drinks in you, you begin to realize that alcohol is a crutch. But you just don’t care so long as it lubricates social situations to the point where dealing with people doesn’t feel painful and awkward despite your best efforts. That’s always been my issue, and I saw a slight reflection of myself in Evan Tanner as he paced around in the back areas of Freedom Fight.
I have no easy way to end this post. Evan Tanner died a meaningless death in the desert. He went out there for no better reason than any of his other fucking adventures. Waxing poetic, you could surmise that he went out there to find something that would help fill the void left by his drinking. Or fill the void that he drank to forget about. Whatever reason was behind his trip, the thing he found was death. And now we’re left with nothing more with our memories of him and more importantly what he meant to us. For some of you, that’s ‘nothing’. For me, it’s a bit more than I’m comfortable admitting.
Today we’ll be reposting all of the blogs we’ve written about Evan. The good, the bad, the stupid. I hope you’ll take the time to read through these posts and links to get to know the Evan that we here at Fightlinker cared about. He was by no means perfect. He was a drunk. He was an asshole. And he regularly fucked up. But we cared deeply about him none the less. In fact, I’d say we cared about him more than any other fighter out there. Because Evan Tanner was a guy who was just as flawed as we are, and he wasn’t afraid to admit it.