It’s been 10 years since the tragic death of “Fast and the Furious” star Paul Walker, but his presence still remains strong in the lives of his family, friends and co-stars.
Walker died at age 40 after a car crash in 2013, when a Porsche Carrera GT driven by his friend, Roger Rodas, crashed and became engulfed in flames. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene, and authorities determined speed was a factor.
His daughter, Meadow Walker, was just 15 at the time of her father’s death and has honored him in various ways throughout the years.
This year, on what would have been his 50th birthday, Meadow wrote on social media, “Happy birthday to my guardian angel. Thank you for your love, guidance, friendship, sunshine and for raising me to see all of the beauty in the world.”
PAUL WALKER’S DAUGHTER MEADOW SHARES EMOTIONAL TRIBUTE ON ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH
She continued, “You are the most kind, humble, generous and caring soul I know. You taught me at a young age to always treat everyone with respect, to do good and to take care of our planet. I love you and miss you every day.”
Meadow has become a successful model, walking in shows for Proenza Schouler and Alexander McQueen, and serving as the face of Givenchy Beauty.
She also founded the Paul Walker Foundation, which she announced on his 42nd birthday on social media, explaining she wanted to share her father’s passions for the ocean, rescuing animals, helping people and “spontaneous goodwill.”
“I wanted to start this foundation because I want to share that piece of him with the world. I want to share that part of him with others,” she added.
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Walker’s brother, Cody Walker, spoke with People this month about his brother’s passing, saying Meadow “has grabbed the torch” from her dad in many ways.
“I’d want him to know that she has just grown to be such a beautiful young lady,” Cody said.
He continued, “She’s pursuing a career that’s extremely difficult, but she’s finding her own way and she’s landing success, and he’d be so proud of her.”
Cody also expressed his brother’s concerns about missing out on Meadow’s life as a working actor.
“Paul was tormented by the fact that his daughter was growing up so fast. He was so busy with his career and trying to juggle all of that,” he said.
According to his brother, Paul “loved being a father,” but “acknowledged the fact that with his career and everything that he had going on, that he was being robbed of all of that precious time” with his daughter, adding, “It really, really ate at him.”
The now 25-year-old married actor Louis Thornton-Allan in 2021. Walker’s “Fast and the Furious” co-star, Vin Diesel, walked her down the aisle, and his daughter, Hania, was her maid of honor.
The bond shared by Diesel and Walker goes well beyond the screen, with Diesel often referring to the late actor as his “brother” and affectionately calling him “Pablo” in tribute posts.
Diesel is also Meadow’s godfather and told “Extra” in 2021 he feels “very protective” of her and gets emotional about their families’ connection.
“She’s the first person on Father’s Day to wish me Happy Father’s Day,” he said. “To see her with my children is one of the most beautiful things. There are moments when I see her playing with [his 6-year-old daughter] Pauline and it hits me so deep ’cause I can only imagine what my brother sees when he sees that.”
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The “Guardians of the Galaxy” star’s youngest, Pauline, is named in Walker’s honor.
On “The Jonathan Ross Show” in 2015, Diesel explained the moment he decided to name her, recalling advice Walker had given him about being in the delivery room for his child’s birth.
“I couldn’t help but to remember Paul and his advice. So, as I’m cutting the umbilical cord, I’m thinking to myself it’s all because Paul Walker told me to go into the delivery room,” he said, becoming emotional.
“So, once it came time to sign the name, I started writing ‘Paul’ and then just added I-N-E.”
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To mark what would have been Walker’s 50th birthday, Diesel shared a lengthy tribute on social media.
“The world isn’t the same brother… as a species, one might say we are struggling. But I think of you, and I smile and know everything is going to be alright,” he wrote.
As he shared other memories of their time together, he focused on the photo he posted of them together, just before they left to volunteer in Haiti following the country’s deadly earthquake in 2010.
“You said first responders shouldn’t have to wait for anyone… and that you wanted to dedicate your life to that. First responders… that was your true self, and you were sharing it with me, your brother,” he wrote.
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“To this day, I imagine if you looked up ‘first responder’ in the dictionary, there would be a picture of you. Haha. So as much as I would like to think we would be cutting cake and singing happy birthday for the big 50! We probably wouldn’t… cause you would be in Maui or Morocco, or anywhere in this planet where people were in need.”
Walker was born and raised in Southern California, the oldest of five children. He began acting at a young age when he appeared in commercials, and his television credits included appearances on “The Young and the Restless” and “Who’s The Boss?”
He later had supporting roles in films like “Pleasantville,” “Varsity Blues” and “She’s All That.”
“The Fast and the Furious” films put Walker on the map, pairing him with Diesel in what grew to be an ever-expanding franchise. The most recent film, “Fast X” premiered this year, with a sequel set for 2025 that will potentially wrap up the series.
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Walker’s character, Brian O’Connor, peacefully drove away from the series at the end of “Fast 7” with a farewell to Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto. Though he’s never seen onscreen, his character is regularly referred to and mentioned by other characters in the follow-up films.
“Fast X” director Louis Leterrier told Total Film in February, “Well, Brian is very much alive in the world of ‘Fast & Furious,’ and they’ve teased him a lot in the previous movies,” adding, “It’s something that everybody has to be on board with. The Walker family is still very much a part of this franchise.”
Meadow made a cameo at the end of “Fast X,” her first official appearance in the franchise.
“It did something to my soul, to see her want to honor her father and to contribute in her own way to his life’s work,” Diesel told People of the appearance. “It meant everything.”