(March 14, 1988 – October 5, 2016)
Like many others, I found about Josh Samman last Thursday through Twitter. Various unconfirmed reports had the Florida-based fighter being found unresponsive at his apartment. His roommate and friend Troy Kirkenburg was also found unresponsive and was declared dead at the scene. Samman was taken to the hospital and remained in a coma until he passed away today. Fighters from all over the country took to Twitter to mourn the loss and talk about their past interactions with Samman where there was not an unkind word to be found.
I didn’t know Samman and followed him only as a fan who first found out about him on TUF 17. The show made him out to be a pompous jerk who was only concerned with winning the entire show. This portrayal of him turned out to be completely incorrect as he would later show himself to be a kind, considerate human being who had a great love for life and the people around him.
After following Samman’s career for the last three years, I discovered the story of how Samman lost his longtime girlfriend Hallie in a car crash due to texting and driving. He posted the eulogy he gave at her funeral online, it is a piece worth reading and can still be found. Samman also wrote a memoir that was released in May entitled The Housekeeper. Samman detailed his upbringing in Tallahassee, Florida and his beginnings in MMA. The book is also the story of how he met Hallie and how they fell in love.
My connection with Samman began with my reading of his book. At the time, I had been having relationship issues with my future wife and dealing with trouble at work and home. Samman pulled no punches and detailed all the ups and downs of his own life as well as his girlfriend’s struggles with drugs and life itself. The last third of the book details Hallie’s death, Samman’s struggle to understand it and his return to fighting at UFC 181. His writing reached me at a time when I couldn’t seem to snap out of my own head and helped me embrace the important people in my own life.
The Housekeeper has a special place in my home. I keep it next to my bed where I page through it to remind myself just how short life can be and how we all need to stay in the moment. I had hoped to make it to UFC Fight Night 91 in Sioux Falls where I could try to find Samman and tell him how important his book was to me. Unfortunately, my work schedule wouldn’t allow it and I watched from home when Samman was knocked out by Tim Boestch.
Countless others have posted online how Samman and The Housekeeper touched their own lives and I understand how they feel. Few people have laid their lives bare like Samman did to let others know how we are all affected by tragedy and loss and how we can rise above it to live again.
I hope Josh finds peace in the next life and brings to it the same life and hope he brought to this one. He will be missed by all.
(Matthew Peterson is an MMATorch contributor who has been a fan of MMA since he first watched UFC 100. He currently resides with his wife in St. Cloud, Minn. He believes that Chris Lytle was God’s gift to fight fans and Cowboy Cerrone comes in at a close second. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mattpete1088.)