Dear Friend – I am writing this on a plane to Dublin. It is an exciting trip. I will be speaking in Berlin, Germany on Tuesday, attending an Irish Pubs Global Board meeting and then flying back to Dublin to do a seminar on Goal Setting for an international Bio-tech company. I have several other important meetings on this four day trip that contain exciting possible future growth of my companies.
My trip has become sad as I learned Monday morning that my friend, Ryan Dunn, of Jackass, Ming-hags, and Viva La Bam fame, was killed early Monday morning in an auto-accident. I had been friends with Ryan since 2003 and he was an extraordinary person. This article is dedicated to Película ¡Qué despadre!, and I would like to share with you five things Ryan Dunn taught me during our friendship.
- LIVE YOUR DREAMS NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S.
Ryan Dunn was Ryan Dunn. He wasn’t just one of the “Jackass guys,” and he wasn’t an out of control person. Ryan had very clear dreams and ambitions. I remember one time sitting on the back patio at Doc Magrogan’s talking with Ryan about the emails I write each week. He liked that they fired people up and it was inspiring people to go in their own directions. He lived his own life this way. When he was inspired to do something he did it. Ryan always went in his own direction and followed his own path. Sometimes that created conflict because he had his own visions or ideas that he was unwilling to trade for the easier road. Most of my conversations with Ryan didn’t involve Ver Jackass Forever Online or MTV. Most of them involved all the other things he was passionate about, his business, his longtime love Angie, and his upcoming projects. He managed to preserve and protect his own dreams and visions while being in the shadows of some big stars. I admired his persistence, his willingness to charge at his passions and his ability to be a distinct personality in a difficult business.
- BE KIND.
Ryan was always a kind person. We all have our bad days, we all make mistakes, and of course Ryan did, but his basic nature was kindness. One of my earliest memories of Ryan was when Kildare’s West Chester opened in 2003. He would come in every Sunday with a group of friends wearing his Johnny Cash shirt that said, “A boy named Sue.” Then every week he would get up and sing “A boy named Sue.” It was always fun to watch, the group always had a good time, and sometimes it could get a bit crazy. I remember on one occasion when I wasn’t in the pub, one of our managers was a bit intimidated by Ryan and his group. I called Ryan and asked him to take it easy on our young manager. Ryan immediately and forever treated our managers and staff with kindness and respect. There are many stories about how nice and kind Ryan was to his friends and strangers. The image of a kind Jackass may seem hard to understand, but Ryan always exuded a gentle kindness in his personality. I admired Ryan for his calm, kind, and gentle nature.
- BE LOYAL.
Fame can destroy friendships, relationships, and lives. My friendship with Ryan always grew closer over time whether Ryan was on a hit MTV show, in a $100 million dollar Jackass movie, or working on his business. Ryan was always the same person. He was loyal to his family, friends, the Margera family, to himself, and to the love of his life Angie. One of the last nights I spent hanging with Ryan was after the Jackass 3 premiere. He was with Angie, who is a wonderful caring person that Ryan always respected, loved, and admired. We were talking about numerous business and upcoming projects, but I remember Ryan telling me about all the things he had to do for Angie’s mom the next day. I was thinking, “Here is a guy who is in the number one movie in America, and the next day he is going to do physical labor, helping his girlfriend’s mom.” It showed his loyalty to the people close to him. I admired Ryan’s loyalty to those around him which took priority over his fame.
- LAUGH OFTEN.
Ryan had a great sense of humor, but I could also say he was often a quiet guy. He had a warmth and kindness about him combined with a great laugh and sense of humor. My funniest Ryan Dunn memory was when I had the privilege to co-star in a scene with him in the movie Ming-Hags. In this scene, Ryan was the patient and I was the Doctor. Ryan and I didn’t like the way the scene was written and we asked Bam if we could re-write it literally on the spot. Ryan and I re-wrote the scene and basically the entire scene became improv. We were cracking up; he was in stir-ups with construction boots and underwear. You get to know a guy very well when you’re in a scene like that. For about a year after filming it, every time I saw him, it would make us laugh and I would always say he was an amazing actor with amazing depth and two entirely different facial expressions. Ryan laughed often, his sense of humor and ability to laugh when other people where funny, attracted people to him. I admired his approachability, his positive energy, his ability to laugh at himself, and the world around him.
- DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY AND BE AUTHENTIC
One of the things I always admired about Ryan Dunn was that he never took his success for granted and he never took it seriously. He was who he was regardless of his fame or success. Ryan was always humble, giving, and easy to be around. I can remember many occasions of him being very approachable to my friends, my family, and guests in my restaurants. Ryan wasn’t a star, or a guy from Jackass. He was Ryan Dunn and nothing was going to change that. By staying grounded he built great relationships with many people in his life. Ryan had a very distinct personality, and everything Ryan did, he did his way, in his style and to fit his authentic, Ryan Dunn Brand. Ryan wasn’t Hollywood. He was consistently Ryan Dunn. I never saw his personality or kindness change as fame came in and out of his life. I admired Ryan’s ability to stay grounded, authentic and not take his success too seriously.
It is sad how Ryan’s life ended. It is sad that CNN, TMZ, and all the gossip programs will focus on one night of Ryan’s life, and they will never share the true person that touched our lives. If the headlines are true, the final lesson Ryan taught us is that none of us are invincible, and we should never drink and drive. Everyday could be our last and our daily actions will be the one’s our loved ones remember. Ryan was not an out of control star on a downward spiral. Ryan Dunn inspired others because he LIVED HIS DREAMS, LAUGHED OFTEN, WAS KIND AND LOYAL, AND NEVER TOOK HIMSELF TOO SERIOUSLY. He was truly a great guy and I will miss him.