A Best Friend’s Perspective: Ian’s Story

This is a piece written by Ian Jasheway, a best friend of Hunter’s and also a valued member of our event team. This is his (mostly unfiltered) story about his time with Hunter Burton. With all of the hype surrounding the tournament and the prizes, we wanted to share a more personal perspective as a reminder of why we work so hard to make the Hunter Burton Memorial Open happen each year!

A Best Friend’s Perspective: Ian’s Story

This article is likely the most emotionally difficult piece of writing that I’ve ever attempted. It is also the most rewarding. I could produce a novel over everything I want to share with readers, so picking the “correct” content is both crucial and terrifying to me. I think speaking on my friendship with Hunter Burton and the importance of this memorial tournament is best delivered as a sort of persuasive narrative. So here we go!

I met Hunter when I was close to eleven years old (I am 25 presently) at a card shop in Hurst, Texas. He was loud, cocky, popular with the guys, funny, abrasive, quick-witted, and considered pretty good at Magic the Gathering. He also wasn’t too fond of kids. Man, I wasn’t a big fan of the guy at first! We didn’t get along well, but he did still hand me a 58 card deck (missing two $20 cards) to play Standard events sometimes. He liked to give you the bricks, sometimes even finish bricking most of the house, but he reveled in watching you try to finish that house. I learned a great deal about not taking crap from grown men, the lovely “games” that teenagers apparently play (like sack tapping), and how to get my butt whooped in Magic and trudge along. Our aquantinship, that neither of us were super fond of, lasted until I was about 14 years old, when our local store closed.

I then started going to a local shop down in Mansfield, Texas. Another local player named Alex Huebner, a regular from my old store started coming as well. Soon enough Hunter started showing up there. Turns out it was close to his house. Long story short, as an unlikely trio, the three of us started playing magic at that shop all the time and hanging out together almost everyday. I needed an older male figure in my life and I oddly started respecting Hunter due to his eccentric personality and obvious intelligence. Apparently he started developing the same odd respect for me as I proved to him that I was able to keep up and I wasn’t a wuss, just like a sometimes idiotic teenage boy does. That led to a really close friendship between all of us, and a very close one between Hunter and I.

We would play golf, poker, and eat out. He also helped get me into some basic high school debauchery as if he was my older brother. We would steal wifi from Staples to play Magic Online all night long while sitting at QT. I spent a lot of time learning about how to play magic “somewhat optimally” from Hunter. It wasn’t sweet or nice. Despite how he portrayed himself, he knew and harped that you won’t get anywhere without hard work. This applied to Magic, golf, paintball, and all other things he worked to become absurd at. From his tutelage, I eventually was consistently beating big names in online Magic and even managed to make my first pro tour in Berlin at age 15 alongside Hunter. We had a crazy, amazing and awesome experience that included a number of moments not safe for this article.

Behind the outside appearance of all this buddying, there was real emotion. The kind shared between family, between brothers. He taught me to have self confidence, to believe in myself even if I couldn’t, and to compliment to myself. He taught me to imagine your goal was accomplished, to quit talking about it and just be about it. He took care of what I needed when I was a broke teenager for weeks at a time. He listened to my issues and supported my choices with warnings, yet let me make my mistakes to learn and grow. When I told him I had set a goal, he would simply say “do it then b****!” and then proceed to help me in every way he could at accomplishing it. A big one was as a junior in high school I became pretty overweight. One day I just looked at him and said “I’m gonna get jacked.” He offered to pay the gym membership if I couldn’t, or even help with nutrition supplements. Hunter proceeded to pick me up almost everyday to hangout from the gym. I eventually achieved that goal!

Hunter, the real one, was the most loyal friend you could ask for and one of the reasons I didn’t feel alone in high school. He shaped my confidence and personality in many ways, good and bad. Hunter was giving me love, I just hadn’t figured that out yet or even what that really was. He provided me a male role model that I desperately needed.

At age 18 I prepared to move off to college at UNT. Hunter and I did a good amount of drinking etc over the summer and we were both more into online poker during that time. Once I got to UNT, I was engulfed in the new freedom filled environment. I was involved in many aspects of “the college life”, so Hunter and I were on a big break from each other for several months. We would text back and forth but he basically just told me I’d be alright and to focus on school.

Unfortunately I didn’t really stay on the straight and narrow. I eventually invited Hunter out to a rave a friend was throwing. This sparked the beginning of a terrible journey for both of us, but also marked the beginning of a closer bond to a friend than I could begin to explain. I won’t go through all the ugly details, but after a good while of the life we were living, my psychological state was where Hunter’s ended. During that dark journey, there was a new deep connection made with Hunter. I knew he was always on my side, he would do literally anything for me, he would never judge me no matter the actions. He cared about and loved me, no matter how much of a monster i felt like. He only ever asked me for honesty, that’s all he needed in return. This connection was beautiful, and for the first time in my life, I felt and understood genuine unconditional love from someone other than my mother (who at the time I foolishly thought would be disgusted with me).

Luckily, being that big brother I’d listen to, Hunter got my foot in the door for help when I was in that hopeless state. Hunter supported all he could, offered to help pay for bills, disappear, come and visit as much as possible every week, just anything that was best for me. He was doing all of this for me as he himself continued getting worse. As I got on my feet and my life back in gear, he steered clear mostly. Once able however, I tried to help him and convince him to follow the life changing path he had once set me on. That didn’t work.

Hunter changed as a man during this time. Crippling depression, guilt, regrets, and other vices had a hold on him. He was too smart for his own good, and had himself tricked without knowing it. I visited Hunter once or twice each week, even just to come tell him I loved him. I wish he could’ve loved himself as much as his family and I loved him. Thankfully during this time I developed a close bond with Hunter’s family. I always tried to do or help with whatever I could, we we’re all just hanging on to whatever we could with Hunter.

Eventually things became too much for Hunter and he took his own life. As dark of a time as it was for him, not a single person had a clue. Hunter’s pride wouldn’t have ever let us know what he was considering. It shattered my heart and his family’s. The life of surviving the suicide of a close friend and loved one was thrown upon us. I hope you never have to experience this type of loss, but if you have then you know it is one of the hardest things to endure. Even approaching five years since his death, i still sob sometimes, dream of him, and think about Hunter every single day of my life.

Suicide is a topic no one wants to discuss. The stigma attached to it is ridiculous. Men are viewed as weak, cowardly, pitiful, or demasculinized for discussing thoughts of suicide or deep emotions, leaving them to be bottled up like a powder keg. There are of course societal persecutions for women as well that are no less difficult.

It needs to be okay for any person in any institution, any age, class, religion, race or creed to discuss or share their feelings of depression, hopelessness, fear of life, and yearnings for death without being ostracized and treated as a lesser human being. People need and deserve help. We as a society need to work on removing this stigma. Together, we are going to do our part with the Hunter Burton Memorial Open. Sucide unfortunately is much more common than you might think, and this tournament brings awareness to that. It’s an event that brings a community heavily touched by social burdens, depression and suicide together to let everyone know it’s okay to talk about it. The hope is that we touch someones heart, let survivors and people suffering know they are not alone. As his family, we also use this event to celebrate Hunter Burton in a fashion that suites him best with a game that he truly loved and exceled at. The Burton family, the staff, the volunteers, the sponsors are all involved to achieve these goals.

If I were to describe my feelings and my relationship with Hunter Burton, it would be simply love. His loyalty, influence on my self-worth, and my respect for him will always be floating in my mind, but my love for him is what drives my passion and what I feel aching in my chest when I sit and think about him. Even today his love and loyalty drives me to be better.

Thank you for taking the time to read my short story. Your support of our event means so much to all of us involved. I look forward to seeing y’all on February 25th in Hurst, Texas!

– Ian Jasheway –

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