"There is a saying in Tibetan: 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster." - Dalai Lama XIV
Josh Samman, UFC middleweight and longtime friend and member of the Bloody Elbow community, recently lost his closest loved one, Hailey Kate Bevis, age 22, in a tragic accident on August 30, 2013. Hailey passed away on Friday, August 30, at 8:35 p.m. in a single car accident during a bad storm while driving to her home town of Tallahassee. She was currently residing with Josh in Hollywood, Florida.
Josh Samman has passed along his heartfelt eulogy from the funeral which, along with details on how to make a donation for Hailey and her family, follow below.
"Mortality is something that stares us all in the face, although I think most of us will agree that there couldn't be a more tragic situation than the one we've been presented with this week. Most my life I've tried to pride myself on being a strong person, but it wasn't until Friday evening that I realized I had never known true, crippling, life changing pain. Most mornings this week I haven't wanted to wake up, and it wasn't until we made funeral arrangements that the Bevis family blessed me with the opportunity to speak today that I began to feel a sense of purpose again.
I think it's safe to say that everyone remembers the first time they saw Hailey. I know that I do, and vividly remember being so taken aback and overwhelmed at how breathtaking one girl could be. What I came to find was that the only thing that matched the beauty of this remarkable girl was the size of her heart and charisma. I knew immediately that I had never met someone so special and that no one would likely ever compare again. I had no shame in singing praises to anyone who would listen about what an amazing person I had met, and how one day I would woo the apple of my eye, how one day I would be with the most beautiful girl in the world.
A wise old friend once told me that when it came to the girl of your dreams 'when you know, you just know.' As simple of a message as this was, deep in my heart I knew that she was the one for me, and as anyone around us at the time could tell you, I was never one to give up. Her brothers didn't share the same sentiment at the time, likely for good reason, as I was a much different person then than I am now. Whether any of them know it or not, something so simple as their disapproval changed my whole life entirely, inspiring me to be a better person in everything I did.
Time passed, and Hailey and I went our separate ways, always keeping in touch here and there but never once did she leave my mind. No matter how far the distance or time between us, I always kept fond memories and a special spot in my heart for the girl of my dreams. Many of the hundreds of thoughtful messages and texts of condolences over the past week have done what they could to lift my spirits, but a common theme in most of them is to be strong, and that I've unknowingly been an inspiration to those around me throughout the years.
As flattering as this was, it fails to do justice or give credit to the one that motivated me and inspired me most. When going through tough times, as there were plenty, I couldn't help but think of the most incredible person I'd ever met, always in the forefront of my mind. Hailey was that person for me, always a fallback in my subconscious, a lovely tool to draw upon to help me achieve my dreams. How can the fond memories of such an amazing hu man being ever fade? How can one not be inspired by such a remarkable person? Besides the happy times we shared, especially over the last year, Hailey was the most important instrument in helping me reach each and every one of my goals and dreams that I'd ever aspired for.
The years went by and Hailey grew from a charming teenage heartthrob to a drop dead gorgeous young lady. Eventually our paths crossed again late last year and we rekindled what had began nearly 7 years ago. What followed was the best year of my life, with her bringing me more joy than I could have ever imagined. We shared our most intimate secrets, built a relationship of trust and understanding, and most importantly became two halves of a whole, taking care of each other in every way we could. We made the decision for Hailey to move down to South Florida where I was living to start a life together, only to be tragically cut short in what has become by far the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. In our times of bliss before the tragedy, she taught me more than I could have ever thought possible, although I struggle to describe in words the things she provided without avoiding cliches. Anyone who met her knows Hailey was the light of everyone's life and had a presence unlike any other. Never in my 25 years had I seen brown eyes glow so brightly and never before had I been so melted by such a heavenly smile.
She wasn't without her ups and downs, as everyone is, but the peace of mind I've found lately was the positivity and bliss she had found at the end of her short lived life. She never once gave up, always making progress, with many of her close friends and family telling me the last few months of her life were happier than anyone had ever seen.
One of my favorite memories of Hailey that will always have a lasting impression on me was during one of our trips out West. Hailey always spoke fondly of her mountain trips to North Carolina, so naturally when we landed in Nevada she was immediately in awe of the canyons and peaks on the horizon surrounding Las Vegas. I promised her we would visit Red Rock, a local national park known not only for the beautiful landscape but also the difficult terrain to climb. Sure enough her ambition took over and she became determined to get to the top of this mountain, and so it was we began the trip skyward. We made it a good distance up the mountain, higher than most casual climbers would be content to reach.
Huffing and puffing and struggling with each step, she refused to stop. I tried to explain to her that we had climbed plenty high and that we could enjoy the scenery perfectly from where we were at. Again, she refused to take no for an answer and continued the trek to the summit. Finally, hours later and a mile and a half in the sky, our little 5' beauty had reached the top, and the sense of accomplishment on her face was something that will stick with me forever. 'I told you I could do it' she told me, with that one of a kind grin on her face, bringing me to tears with one simple phrase. This one feat was so powerful, so symbolic of her strength to me, that it will forever remain one of the best moments of my life.
My most recent memories of Hailey were of two unfortunate hospital trips I had in the month before her death. Not once of which did she leave my side, to the point of her insisting we sleep in the same undersized hospital bed, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it was. More importantly than anything, Hailey was one of those rare individuals that was a giver and not a taker. Not often will any of us find someone who is more concerned with the well being of others rather than themselves. There was no such thing as too much cuddling or too many kisses to her, and it's with that love that she would want all of us to pass on to each other. Not one person in my life shaped me to be the person I am more than Hailey, and although the pain of her loss will undoubtedly define me forever, I'll be eternally grateful for the impact she had on my life."