INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — When it came to being a great friend, Chris Beaty checked off all the boxes. He was funny, loyal and always the life of the party.
It was no different in the working world, either. He was a successful Indianapolis businessman in a variety of roles for the past 20 years after finishing his football career at Indiana. And all those traits that made him a good friend helped him excel in the business world, too.
Beaty, who had thousands of friends all around town, was killed on May 30, trying to stop a robbery outside his downtown apartment. He was 38, and his death has rocked the city, with murals popping up everywhere.
Beaty's success in business, however, didn't mean nearly as much to him as seeing his friends succeed as well, often with a push or a helping hand from Beaty. Former Indiana football player Derin Graham, who now owns a workout apparel company in Indianapolis, said that Beaty had a lot to do with the growth of his business.
"One of the greatest things about Chris was that he was genuinely interested in what you had going on, and he would do anything he could to help you, no questions asked,'' said Graham, who played football at Indiana in the late 1990s just before Beaty got there, and spent eight years playing professionally in the Arena Football League
"When I started Millennium Gear, I talked to Chris a lot about that. He was a big help. When he would do his NFL Combine parties, he'd bring me in to be a part of it, and it was great for making connections. He spearheaded a lot of that for me. He definitely helped me with my success here. He's plugged in everywhere, and he would plug me in, too. He was a master connector.''
Local disc jockey James Waldon (DJ GNO) calls Beaty his best friend, and says all the success he's had here in Indianapolis the past decade wouldn't have happened without Beaty opening doors, right from Day 1.
"When I first got here, I didn't have any clients. I was starting from zero as a DJ,'' Waldon said. "My first event here, Chris basically just created it so I would have a job. That first gig was a Monday Night Football thing, and when Chris planned something, everybody showed up.
"I made a lot of contacts that very first night, and I never looked back. And Chris never stopped either. If I had a late night somewhere, he'd come help, all pro bono, of course. And when I do Colts games, he was always there keeping me on my game. He'd keep me focused. He was a producer for me, basically, and he'd do it just to help me succeed.''
Beaty won multiple football state championships at Cathedral High School and then played four years at Indiana. After college, he managed night clubs, did inside sales at places like Angie's List and Gannett, and recently owned a nightclub (Revel) with Waldon and was part of a new company that started making masks.
He was best known in town when he managed 6 Lounge in downtown in the early 2000s. It was the go-to place in town, and it was Beaty who made sure that everyone had a good time.
"It was THE place to go, and that was all Chris,'' Waldon said. "Peyton Manning would be there, Danica Patrick, all the Pacers and Colts guys. Every one of the major A-list people in Indy would go to 6. Even LeBron James, when he was in town, would go to 6 to see Chris.
"He knew everybody. He was that connected.''
After that, Beaty's Fresh Marketing company put on events all over town, and he could get people there around every big event in town. And when he had things going on, he made sure he helped his friends whenever he could.
"Chris would do these events around the NFL Combine when it was in town, and a little while after I started my company, he came to me and said, 'Let's do this together,' '' Graham said. "I made all sorts of contacts from that with a lot of NFL people and others, and it was great for my business.
"Chris didn't have to do that. But that's who he was. He was more interested in my success than he was his own. He always wanted to help people out. It was big picture for him, too. We talked a lot about business and about having God involved in everything in your life, It was a true privilege to have him in my life.''
That was an ongoing thread throughout his life. Chris Davis, another former Indiana football player who's now director of athletics for a huge non-profit in Dallas, has been friends with Beaty for years, too.
Beaty was always there with business advice.
"He would always help you at the drop of a dime,'' Davis said. "If I needed help with PR or marketing on a project, all I had to do was call him and he'd be there for me. He always called me 'Boss.' Whenever I called, he'd be like, 'What do you need, Boss?'
Brandon Mosley, an Indianapolis real estate broker who spent a lot of time with Beaty all the way back to their Indiana football days, can't think of a better person than Beaty when it comes to selflessness.
"Chris was a people person who genuinely cared about what was going on in your life and in your work,'' Mosley said. "You could ask him anything and he would help. He would want to help. He was always helping people and bringing people together, and he'd always figure out a way to make things work.
"We'd talk a lot. He'd be like, 'What are your dreams?' or 'Where do you want to be in life?' As a young black man, he wanted to make a difference. He wanted all of us to make a difference.''
"What made him special was that even though he was successful, he didn't want to be the only one. He brought his people with him, brought us along. We were blessed that way,'' said Graham, who said repeatedly that the city would be better right now during all recent protests if Beaty's voice could have been heard.
"Right now, with all this stuff going on, we really could have used his voice of reason. He could have helped everyone get on top of this. As a black man, we hurt losing him.''
Graham still struggles every day with the loss of his friend. Getting over it? That's not going to be possible.
"I last saw him about a month ago, and we just texted a couple of weeks ago. My last text, I told him I loved him, and he texted me back, "All love, bro.'' That was my last time hearing from him and I'll have to live with that.
"It will take all of my lifetime to get over this."
Waldon still tears up every day talking about Beaty. The two of them just had "the most amazing club run I've ever had'' with Revel on South Meridian Street the past couple of years, he said. The club was a huge success but closed earlier this year when investors wanted to cash out.
"It was a great success, but then when we closed, it was almost like perfect timing because we went to the Super Bowl together and partied together and then COVID happened and we basically just quarantined together,'' Waldon said. "We were together practically every day.
"I miss him every minute of every day. I could have never asked for a better friend. I still can't believe he's gone.''
Previous Chris Beaty stories
- BEATY KILLED OUTSIDE APARTMENT (June 1): After violence broke out in downtown Indianapolis after a night of protesting, former Indiana football player Chris Beaty was killed outside his apartment trying to stop a robbery. CLICK HERE
- BEATY'S FINAL MOMENTS (June 2): Chris Beaty died "trying to help others'' as friends describe his final hours that ended with his murder outside his downtown Indianapolis apartment. CLICK HERE
- ARTISTS COMMEMORATE BEATY (June 4): The story behind the artists' mural of Chris Beaty in downtown Indianapolis, and the scholarship fund set up in his honor to help students at Cathedral High School and Indiana University. CLICK HERE
- FUNERAL DATES SET (June 6): The memorial service and funeral dates for Chris Beaty have been set. CLICK HERE
- HELPING OTHERS SUCCEED (June 10): Chris Beaty was a successful businessman, but what matters to him even more was helping his friends succeed with their businesses, too. CLICK HERE
- TEARS FLOW AT BEATY MEMORIAL (June 12): Thousands of people came to say goodbye to Chris Beaty during his memorial service on Friday. CLICK HERE