[EDITORS NOTE: On December 25th 2012, we lost yoyo player Nathan Dewitt. The exact nature of his death is still under investigation, but Nathan suffered gunshot wounds and crashed his car while presumably fleeing his attacker(s), just before midnight on Christmas Day. All information we have has come from the video above. I asked around for a friend of Nathan’s to reflect on his life, and Augie Fash came forward and asked to say a few things. I didn’t know Nate at all, but it’s always a shame when we lose someone so young. Rest in peace, Nate. – Steve]
Over the years, Nathan and I would meet off-and-on at yo-yo contests.
The first memory I have of Nathan will always be one of my favorites, though. We first met at the Y3A Yo-yo Contest in last Vegas, nearly ten years ago. Back then both of us were relatively unknown players but we both shared a similar enthusiasm and love for yoyo.
Late at night, after the contest, all the yo-yo players gathered for a yo-yo battle. Everyone packed into an empty room and took turns going head-to-head, throwing down their best trick.
I remember Nathan getting on stage in front of everyone and effortlessly doing this crazy eli hop. He would launch the yo-yo, whip his body in a 360, and then the yoyo would land on the string in this completely impossible way, where I could barely even see what was going on.
I screamed like crazy for that trick.
I came up to Nathan after the yo-yo battle and asked him to show it to me again. He gave me a HUGE smile and then proceeded to try to teach me. Being big and uncoordinated, I knew I couldn’t spin in a 360. Not without months of practice at least.
Nathan wouldn’t be deterred though.
Every time I would give a half-hearted attempt, every time I told him no, every time I told him there’s no way I could spin a 360…
He would just stand there, flash this huge, ridiculous smile, and then tell me that of course I could. He would not be deterred. One hundred percent of me thought that I could never do that trick. One hundred percent of him though, knew that I could.
He would just smile again and say to just keep trying.
It’s kind of funny, because nearly 10 years later, I still remember seeing that trick. I’ve been going to yoyo contests for 14 years. I’ve seen world champions and trick innovators. I’ve traveled. I’ve demoed. I have seen a lot in the yo-yo world.
That trick though, I still remember it. And that’s kind of a weird thing. Because with as long as I have been involved in yoyo, very few tricks stick with you like that.
At first, I wasn’t sure why I remembered that trick, but now, I think I realize. In many ways, for me, that trick represents Nathan. A few things always stuck out to me about Nathan, and a few things stuck out to me about that trick.
Both Nathan and that trick had an incredible energy. No matter what, every time you saw Nathan, he was always so upbeat. He had this awesome, youthful enthusiasm that was at once both passionate and hopeful. Not many people are able to carry those kinds qualities into the difficulties faced with adulthood, but Nathan definitely did.
Looking back, that memory may have been a small part of both of our lives, but it is one that will always stick with me. I took a lot away from that chance encounter. Our paths may have never gotten the opportunity to cross very often, but I am very happy for the few times that they did.
Thank you for the inspiration Nathan.
Rest in peace, my friend.