For 18 years I had the privilege of experiencing Chris Kanyon’s friendship. Though we initially met through our mutual love of and involvement in professional wrestling, our roots would go on to be grounded far deeper than that. Kanyon was the one person I knew I could always count on, regardless of the miles between us or how difficult and inconvenient the situation at hand may have been.
I told Chris early on, as many people did, that he was too nice of a guy to be in the wrestling business. He was honest, generous to fault, loyal, and had an incredible degree of personal integrity. He stood up for deserving underdogs, despite what it may have cost him, because he innately felt it was the right thing to do.
Kanyon was directly responsible for making my childhood dream of being involved in wrestling on a national stage materialize, in addition to my professional success outside of wrestling. I once told him I felt guilty that I couldn't possibly return the favor in kind on the same grand scale. He told me, "I don't expect you to. You're my best friend. I did what I did because that's what friends are supposed to do."
It's impossible to fully articulate my gratitude for the positive impact his friendship and selflessness made on my life.
At times we fought and argued like wild animals, often to hilarious extremes. Despite that, our bond remained unbreakable.
Many of the.personal difficulties Kanyon revealed to the public in recent years had been shared with me long ago. I was honored that, out of his many friends, he chose to initially confide in me. Chris dealt with a level of internal torment most people will never be able to grasp. To see someone I cared for experiencing that kind of ongoing anguish was painful beyond description at times, yet insignificant compared to what he endured.
The last time I saw Kanyon in person he told me that he planned to leave us. It was a matter of "when", not "if”. He wasn't sad. He wasn't angry. If nothing else, he seemed to be at peace with himself. As I had done countless times before over the years, I tried to convince him that he had plenty to live for and listed all of the people who loved him and would be devastated by his passing. He told me that I was being selfish because I was more worried about my own pain than his. He said that he had no control over wrestling politics or his mental health, but the one thing he could control was his own existence. He felt no one had the right to insist that he go on living when he found doing so to be unbearable.
I knew I was seeing Chris for the final time when he summed up his feelings by quoting part of Morgan Freeman's closing monologue from one of his favorite movies, 'The Shawshank Redmption'.
“ . . . Some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice." Now that he’s gone, those words have a profound and surprisingly comforting resonance.
All I could do was to give Kanyon a tearful hug and thank him for being such a truly wonderful friend. Kanyon left Freeman’s final two lines off of the quote he shared with me that night. I can think of no better way to describe the void his absence has left in my life than to close with them.
"But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."