EDDIE CONSTANTINE R.I.P.

Eddie Constantine (left) at a media day circa 2009, interviewing Strikeforce world lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez (right).

Eddie Constantine (left) at a media day circa 2009, interviewing Strikeforce world lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez (right).

 

Remembering eddie

A 'FAST EDDIE' CONSTANTINE FIGHTER

By Danny Acosta, FIGHT! Magazine (January 2010)

When I entered Eddie Constantine's home, I usually found a hug, an armbar, and a meal, but not on Monday, Jan. 25, 2010. That’s the day I found my friend dead.

He left us 23 days after turning 31-years-old - maybe even a day earlier. 

I met Eddie, a purple belt under Renzo Gracie and journalist for ProMMA.info, at Gilbert Melendez's media day on March 30, 2009 at Cesar Gracie's gym in Pleasant Hill, Calif. When I told him my name, he said he knew me.

I was surprised, but he knew my work. We started talking more and reporting less. We exchanged information. I had to come train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in his living room dojo, which sometimes made its way onto his back lawn depending on the weather, he said.

I became Eddie's student. He trained me for free because he never charged anyone. He'd cook dinner for recovery and lend grappling DVD's almost like homework, reminding me to practice hip escapes in his Brazilian-English parody voice — the impression every jiu-jitsu player does. His was especially Renzo. Eddie emphasized technique, hard work and heart, but most of all an enjoyable learning experience.

One day, we were sitting across from each other and stretching on his living room carpet. His weinerdog Tuffy came and sat between my legs, standing tall as if to protect me. We joked even Tuffy knows I'm about to get my *** kicked. Eddie was always having fun with whatever he was doing. His head would fall back when his laugh would thunder. 

A plague of back problems kept his belt the same color for a decade. That didn't stop him from loving fighting and teaching it to others, though. 

As both a teacher and a friend, I was constantly surprised at how genuine and loving Eddie was. He complimented me on stories I wrote I didn't know had been published yet — that's how dedicated he was to supporting those close to him. He believed in others, perhaps more than he believed in himself. 

No matter how much I wash my hands, I feel they are tinged with death — a dirty, subconscious guilt that I could have helped and I should have seen it. The truth is Eddie did not want to burden others with his pain, so he hid it. Tragically, he committed the lone selfish act of his life and it was a fatal one. 

So what do you do on days like these where your worst fears are realized? 

Today, I had an ill feeling of maggots burrowing into my gums. On days like these the world is still, cold and unreal. 

After our first class, Eddie paid me high compliment: he said I was a fighter. After our last class, he commented he loved our training. Somewhere along the line, Eddie said he saw himself in me. I cried today like I was injected with torture, thinking about how much those words mean to me. 

I celebrated the New Year with Eddie then his birthday a day after. I had no idea they would both be his last.  

Yeah, I guess Eddie did know me, but after this it's hard to comprehend if I ever knew him. Regardless, if Eddie believed I was a fighter, then I'm a fighter. 

With that thought, I started a memorial fund for Eddie called "Fast Eddie's Fighters," which will provide scholarships for young jiu-jitsu fighters like the ones he trained free of charge. Eddie would always talk about being Tim McKenzie's first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach while both were at the University of the Pacific. McKenzie went on to fight in the WEC and the UFC. 

To preserve Eddie's memory, we hope to produce more success stories like that and eventually champions like Eddie believed anyone could be.

The world lost a great coach today; however, Eddie Constantine will forever be in our corner.

Always Know Who Walks Through Your Doors: Remember Eddie Constantine 2011

By Danny Acosta (January 2011, special to ProMMAnow.com)

How often do we open the doors to our worst fears? Is it worse to open them or not know what to do once we have? I opened the door to my worst fear on January 25, 2010, when I found my mentor, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach and friend Eddie Constantine decided to check out early. Exactly one year later, I’m finally gathering what to do once we have.

The fact is as painful and personal as this is for me to share, I’ll probably write one of these every year until I die Eddie impacted my life that much in a year that each one that passes after he left us will still be tied to him in an incredibly large way. I bust my ass to bring fans mixed martial arts content they will enjoy and one of my biggest fans was Eddie, which was, and is still is, incredibly humbling.

So much of what I know about MMA or learn about MMA relates to conversations I had with Eddie. And life too. We watched Renzo Gracie: Legacy and Mario Sperry: Day of Zen together: pivotal moments I will always remember as an MMA fan and friend of Eddie. Over a million people watched my videos on YouTube—some of which are featured on AOL—this year and I will never forget that Eddie encouraged me to involve myself on and behind the camera when I resisted. I still remind myself from time to time to open my video interviews for FIGHT! Magazine with “What it is? What it is?,” Eddie’s tagline.

Despite having to write this, I had a good day, and I know that’s what my friend would have wanted—and certainly would have ensured if he was still physically here. My wrecked car (I was recently in an accident but I’m fine) was being towed as I woke up this morning. Not the best way to start the day although shortly after I was asked to be on television as a fight analyst. As I looked down at my phone which delivered the news, I immediately thought it was a practical joke “Fast” Eddie was playing on me. Tow my car to give me bad news just to make the good news that much better. Eddie’s presence was felt today like every other day: bright and reassuring.

Eddie really lived like a martial artist. One of the most important lessons I learned from him is never to big time anybody. Eddie loved to listen to everybody and talk to everybody—in that order. He thrived on networking, hustling—connecting. Renzo Gracie, who awarded Eddie his purple belt, was incredibly saddened and gracious when I informed him of Eddie’s passing. While I was listening to the living legend, I couldn’t help but think how dead on Eddie’s impression of his instructor was. Even in the most serious moments, Eddie can make things fun and that was especially true when he taught me Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for free.

Everyone deserves a friend like Eddie. Eddie cherished the picture of Renzo presenting him his purple belt the same way I cherish the pictures I have with Eddie. Unfortunately, Eddie couldn’t defeat his demons. He was still a fighter though. I truly know that. And that’s why I know he’s finding or found peace now, probably by talking shop with Ryan Bennett, Evan Tanner, Helio Gracie, Charles “Mask” Lewis and countless others.

People will never know Eddie like they know those names. For a select few in MMA though, the name is just as synonymous with our beloved sport. A year after Eddie’s death, I am starting to realize that once we’ve passed through the doors of our worst fears, there is only love, passion and progress—everything we had when we started, and everything we will be eternally provided by those we have loved and lost.

Godspeed and party on.

***

Honoring Eddie's memory by giving back through martial arts is still the dream and an imminent reality.

Peace, love and understanding.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)