Bryant Big Country Reeves I'm Sorry


When the Grizzlies first came to Vancouver, Gerry Flowers was passing through their practice facility in Richmond for some reason, and he saw the Grizzlies coach trying to demonstrate a play to the team on a dry-erase white board propped up on his knee. My pops proceeded directly to his car to grab a drill and tools, then he interrupted their practice to hang their board on the wall for them. Bryant's father Carl was watching, and he chatted up Gerry on the sidelines. Then Carl called over Bryant to meet Gerry and they quickly became friends.

During that first conversation Gerry found out that Bryant had just bought a house that was directly across the street from my high school Hugh Boyd, in West Richmond. You stroll out the back entrance of my school, walk 40 feet and you're at his front door. My sister was invited to babysit Bryant's and April's kids a bunch of times.

My dad and sister went to a bunch of Grizzlies games that Bryant hooked up tickets to. My mom and I went to a few (I played sports but had difficulty watching them because I was easily distracted). I used to be a serious athlete, I played AAA Hockey for Richmond up until grade 10, then I quit to pursue a more artistic lazy lifestyle. Even though I wasn't huge into sports anymore, I still thought Bryant was really cool, really laid back and really smart. He would actually listen to you when you spoke to him, and he didn't seem like a hotshot famous guy at all. One year for Christmas he gave me a small 3 piece stereo system that had an auxilary input (very cool) and I still use it to this day, 19 years later.

My dad used to go over to Bryant's place and the both of them would drink Crown Royal Whiskey and they'd drunkenly play pool and crack jokes until 2am-3am in the morning. My dad felt honoured that Bryant had accepted him, and our family, as friends.

I used to stop by his place sometimes after school if my sister was there babysitting. One time I went over wearing flip-flops and kicked them off outside the entrance. As I stepped through the front door, I felt something thick and hot under my right foot and was immediately smacked in the nostrils by rich steamy fumes. Then I saw a fluffy Pomeranian Chihuahua-type dog scuttling across the tiles toward me, barking like mad. Guess they just got a new dog and my sister didn't let him outside in time. Looking down, I saw the dog crap had artistically squished up between my toes like how you squish mashed potatoes up through a fork when you're spaced-out during Thanksgiving Dinner. I hopped into the kitchen on one foot (the entire turd lifted off the tiles, stuck to my foot now), grabbed some paper towel, and cleaned myself up... My sister was laughing so hard.

Bryant went home for the off-season to his hometown Gans, Oklahoma. Down there one summer he bought a brand new jet-black Lincoln Navigator SUV, and wanted to get it up to Vancouver to be his car up here, but he wasn't able to drive it because he had to fly with his family. He asked if my dad and I wanted to drive it up for him. It was a cool opportunity for us to go on a father/son roadtrip together, so Bryant flew us down, we hopped in the luxury SUV, cranked up the Led Zeppelin CDs I brought, and hit the highway. It was pretty much our one-and-only father/son trip we've ever taken.

The next summer, right before Bryant went home, he called me over to his Richmond house one night and said he'd like me to take care of his stuff while they were gone. He handed over keys to his house, and keys to his very expensive luxury Lincoln Navigator. He said if my friends and I needed a place to chill and hide out, by all means hang out at his house. And drive the car whenever I liked, just don't drive like a maniac. I was flabbergasted. He was so chill, made me feel like I was actually a responsible young man. I rolled up to school the next day in the Navigator and my boys couldn't believe it. I only ever brought one or two friends to his place at a time. They all wanted me to throw a party there but I never did it.

Leading up the final day of school in Grade 12, a group of us wanted to throw a rock concert in the school parking lot. The school admin didn't approve of our idea and song choices, so we decided to do it off school property... across the street, in the tiny park right beside Big Country's house. We rehearsed in his garage, and on the day of the concert, a bunch of us skipped class to set everything up. We ran power extension cords from Bryant's living room, out his back door and over his fence, into the park. We stacked up our speakers and amps, hung our hastily-painted Rockin' In The Free World signs, tuned our guitars, basses and drums... and at exactly 2:34pm, when the final bell rang on the final day of our final year high school, our super-group of like 12 guys and girls from all the different punk/metal/rock bands in our school began hammering out the distorted chords of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. It was awesome. Bryant was a legend amongst my friends. After about 30 minutes the cops rolled up and tried to shut us down, but when they didn't find too many kids drinking beers, they let us continue.

In the next year, my first out of high school in the real world, I started going off my rocker a bit. I was really into philosophy, cyberpunk science fiction, and biotech/evolution theories. My friends didn't take my weird ideas too seriously, they always knew me as a bit of a daydreamer... but I kind of got really tangled up in my own head. What I didn't realize at the time is that I was slowly succumbing to the mental illness Schizophrenia, and these ideas I was talking about became a real mission for me. I believed I was chosen to enlighten everybody on Planet Earth with these connections I was making between previously unrelated things. I thought people had been placed in my life to help me on my mission. I believed Bryant was a key part of a grand master plan, and that he had been testing me to see if I was responsible enough to handle the next stage. I just needed to prove it to him.

So I wrote big 3 page single-spaced manifesto and asked him if we could meet up before he left to go back home. I think this was the final year of the Grizzlies in Vancouver, so I had to act fast. Late one night at his house, with his family upstairs asleep, Bryant and I sat on his couch and I asked him to read my entire 3 page sprawl of random ideas. When he was finished the final sentence, I showed to him the printouts from the bank meeting I had earlier that day. Then I asked if he would lend me $10 million dollars. He didn't say anything for a little while, then he looked at me. I knew he was about to congratulate me on finally being ready to move up to the next level of my Quest. Instead, he placed his hand on my shoulder and said he would have to run it by his wife April and he'd let me know. As I left his house, he called out to me and told me to take care.

Bryant left the next day. I didn't hear from him or see him until my family flew down to his ranch in Oklahoma for a vacation that summer. This trip was planned before I had approached Bryant with my manifesto. My family knew nothing about what I had asked him, and I think deep-down I knew they would've been very disappointed in me if they found out. I didn't know what to do... so I didn't mention anything about it to anybody.

The trip however was amazing. We met Bryant's whole extended family. I helped him and his brother and their crew gather hundreds heavy hay bales from their ranch fields. It was intense work... except I think Bryant was just chilling driving the truck, drinking ice cold Dr. Peppers the whole time (they had coolers of chilled sodas placed strategical throughout the field). The truck didn't stop moving, and you have to haul the huge back-breaking bales up and chuck them onto the moving, growing pile on the bed of the truck. Bryant's brother was chewing tobacco and I asked him if I could try some. I didn't know how you're supposed to do it, so I grabbed a big pinch of the stuff, tossed it in my mouth, chewed it up, and swallowed the works. It stung the inside of my cheeks and throat and burned horrifically in my chest and stomach. I realized the hard way, this ain't how it's done... and puked it all up like a Rookie.

At Bryant's parents' place they cued up a college video of Bryant playing for Oklahoma, his team down by 1 point, 1 second left on the clock. Bryant grabs the ball in his own team's end, winds up, and fires it into the air. The ball sailed the entire length of the court and swooshed through the hoop. It was crazy. At that moment, for the first time, it dawned on me that he was really good at basketball, and I realized what an achievement it was for him to make it into the NBA.

Gans, Oklahoma was a different world. I rode my first horse down there, fired handguns, rifles and shotguns for this first time, had my first fried-catfish po-boy at the Big Country Cafe, wolfed down incredible real homecooked baked beans like I'd never tasted. It was a new culture and lifestyle. The people were so relaxed, calm and focussed.

My mind kept coming back to my big ideas though. On the last day of the trip I cornered Bryant and beside his above-ground pool and asked him if he had a chance to go over my proposal with his wife. He said he hadn't had the chance yet, but he'd let me know eventually. I wondered: What was I doing wrong? Why didn't he believe I was ready for the next stage?

I went back home to Vancouver with my family, and I wondered why he never got back to me. Eventually I began to hear my dad wondering aloud why Bryant wouldn't get back to him too. But I didn't say anything. My dad is an extremely proud man, and would never dream of asking Bryant for anything. I knew this and kept my secret from him, and I continued to spiral deeper into my computer/brain theories and delusions. After a few terrifying psychotic episodes, my mom, through her own research, found a schizophrenia specialist and brought me in to get diagnosed and on the right medication. The medication helped bring me back to reality, but it was a years-long, maybe decade-long process to stabilize, and the process still continues to this day.

A couple years ago, my dad went on a motorcycle trip with his 2 good friends. They drove all through the USA on their big Harley Davidson bikes. Gerry separated from his friends for a day or so, making a special detour to swing by Bryant's ranch. My dad told me that when he knocked on the door, it didn't seem like Bryant was happy to see him, and he wasn't invited to come in or stay for much of a visit. He said he wasn't sure what was going on, but it seemed strange to him. "I thought we used to be pretty good friends... I wonder what happened?" he said.

Then I told my dad... that 17 years ago, I asked Bryant to lend me $10 million dollars. I told my dad about the 3 pages of strange ideas, the cyberpunk mission, and how I showed Bryant the paperwork I got from the bank, how the Bank of Montreal was gonna put it in a secured-investment account for 10 years, slowly the interest was gonna compound, and I was gonna and pay him back every penny once the money had doubled. My dad couldn't believe it. I thought he would be more angry, furious even (the guy is a Recon Marine Vietnam Vet who flies off the handle) but I realized that he was just plain sad. I figure he was disappointed that he wasn't able to teach his son simple shit like this.

If I wanted to pass any message onto Bryant, I'd keep it real quick:

"Bryant, it's Ryan Flowers. I just want to apologize for asking you to lend me $10 Million Dollars 17 years ago. You were so cool, and very kind to our family, and you trusted me to look after your stuff sometimes, and especially you were a great friend to my dad Gerry. Two years ago I finally confessed to Gerry about how I asked you for the $10 Million. To say the least, he was really shocked and disappointed in me. But he forgave me eventually. Just wanted to let you know my dad would never dream of asking you for anything and he just really appreciated your friendship and all the Crown Royals and Coca Colas you guys drank while playing pool until 3am on weeknights. If you ever want to hang out with him again, his number is 604-619-7540. He is retired now and travels the world. As I get older I realize how chill you were, and just wanted to say, I hope you and your family are doing great, and also, Kat Jayme is an amazing filmmaker and great B-Ball player with a big heart, so thanks for helping her out with her film."