Shronk 1981-2009

I called BJ yesterday. But when I started to leave my message, I just broke down. BJ emailed me, saying he couldn’t call me back, because he wasn’t sure he could keep it together.

It was one thing to know Shronk was gone. It was a whole different level of pain to have to say it out loud. It may be the conversation BJ and I never have — although I think we’ll both try.

Young or old, most people die without living out their fantasy. It is perhaps the deepest tragedy of death. But that wasn’t Shronk’s tragedy. He lived his fantasy every day. I’ve never known anyone who loved what they did for a living more than Shronk. He had the work ethic of a pit bull and the enthusiasm of a puppy.

While I knew Shronk, I never had a chance to work along side him until the 2007 WPT Championship. He was doing video and I was doing photos - so we both “processed” up in a room at the Bellagio. No matter what time of day or night, he was behind his laptop, cursing at some technical glitch that kept him from loading something onto YouTube or celebrating a perfect segment. And when he talked about poker — and about his work — it was like he had discovered sex for the first time. He just couldn’t believe the poker world existed for him to live in. He was a Lost Boy in his own Never Never Land.

From there we rolled into the 2007 WSOP. Every day he looked for the “perfect” piece. Shronk never rested until he had it nailed. When I walked into the media room each day, he’d call out, “Have you seen this yet? You gotta see this.” And he’d cue up a video. I think we watched “Coffee, Soda, Juice” a dozen times — dancing from our chairs. There was no better way to get pumped up for a long day in the Amazon room than starting it off with Shronk. His enthusiasm was infectious and everyone in the media room was the better for it.

I loved that he not only got to play in the $2000 NLHE event that year but cashed in 81st place out of 2038 players. John Caldwell and I sat side by side with dumb grins on our faces as Shronk would run to the sidelines and retell his latest play. I’m sure we looked every bit like proud parents when their kid hits one out of the park.

The tragedy of Justin Shronk’s death wasn’t that he never lived his dream. He lived it every day. The tragedy is ours.

Other Shronk tributes:
The Shronk tribute by Philadelphia Phillies announcer at MLB.com
The Shronk Tribute Show on PokerRoad Radio Part I
The Shronk Tribute Show on PokerRoad Radio Part II
The Shronk tribute by Pauly

The Shronk Poker Road Radio Tribute Shirts
On the back of one it quotes BJ, saying:

No matter how long
We live and breathe,
and whether or not
We remember the name
JUSTIN
We will never forget
the force of nature that was
SHRONK

One Comment

  1. pete suchecki
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    i recently heard the bad news of justin’s death.. i used to work with him in high school at an exxon gas station. we became good friends for a few years and then lost touch. i’m super shocked hearing about his death but everything written above is so dead on about justin. he was always such a fun loving passionate person. i’m glad he got to live out his dream… may he rest in peace

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