This is a piece written by Alex Huebner, a best friend of Hunter’s. 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!
I remember the very last time I saw Hunter Burton and that thought has haunted me ever since. We had not spoken in a while when he happened to show up to a booster draft at our local game store Area 51 in Grapevine, Texas. We caught up and the last thing I said to Hunter was “see you later.” Unfortunately, I was wrong; I wasn’t aware of how Hunter was struggling internally because he was always one to keep his feelings inside. To Hunter, it was the macho thing to do. We would lightly discuss issues we were having but wouldn’t get too personal because we didn’t want to seem “vulnerable.”
I first met Hunter when I was 15 at Shotokan Anime in Hurst, Texas and I wasn’t too fond of him at the start. He was very abrasive and could sometimes just be a downright jerk. It wasn’t until later that I realized that’s just how Hunter was; if he liked you, he would poke fun at you and, if he didn’t, then he wouldn’t talk to you at all. By the time I was 17 we had come to understand each other and were hanging out from time to time at the shop, but eventually Shotokan closed and we all went our separate ways. A few months later Collectibles Continuum opened up in downtown Mansfield and a mutual friend of ours, Jason Tams, convinced me to check it out since it was close to where we lived. I remember walking in and seeing Ian Jasheway and Hunter sitting there playing magic and thinking it was weird since Ian and Hunter didn’t really get along.
After several months of us playing magic together at Collectibles Continuum we became a very unlikely group of friends called “The Trio,”. We had a lot of good times together, whether it be sitting in Hunter’s car bumming Wi-Fi from whatever local store we could get it from, going bowling, or seeing movies with Jeff Zandi. We were a bunch of goons. One time, Ian jumped off his garage to sneak out of his house to hang out with me, and when I told Hunter about it, he obviously needed to see this. The next night Hunter and I were dropping Ian off and then planning to go do something and Ian wanted to join us, so Hunter pressured him into jumping off of his garage again, and at the highest point, telling him “If you land and roll you will be fine.” Long story short Ian shattered his foot and ended up in a wheelchair for several months. Hunter felt bad but would never admit it, but he made sure to go out of his way from then on to help Ian travel and hang out.
My favorite memory I have of Hunter goes back to when we were younger. I received a phone call from Hunter around 9pm telling me that he would be at my apartment in 30 minutes and that he had a surprise. Hunter showed up with 2 six packs of beer and said we were going to have a race to see who could finish theirs first. Me being young and not used to drinking lost the race pretty quickly. After we were finished Hunter said, “Let’s go play laser tag.” We hitched a ride and went to the arcade by my house. While we thought we were hot stuff and winning the laser tag war, it turned out that we had not hit a single person the whole game. All we could do was laugh. Afterwards we decided it was time to get some food in our stomachs, so we could sober up, so obviously we went to Waffle House. I was a little too intoxicated, so I went to the restroom and threw up so loud that everyone in the waffle house heard me. Hunter of course thought it was hilarious.
I am both Honored and sorrowful to be writing this article. I have written a little in my life, but nothing has felt more important than this. I learned a lot from knowing Hunter, and the most important thing I learned from all of this is to never take someone for granted because you never know what someone is going through even if they look fine on the outside. I have since learned to live in the moment and take nothing for granted and I want anyone that needs someone to talk to, or even just someone to listen to, to know that I am here for them.
Thanks Alex for that really touching piece! We all look forward to seeing you at this year’s Hunter Burton Memorial Open to hear more stories about your times with Hunter!
If you are suffering, don’t hold it in. It’s okay to talk about it! Call the National Suicide Hotline to get the help you deserve! 1-800-273-8255