chris-beaty-feature
Remembering ‘Mr. Indianapolis,’ Chris Beaty
Chris Beaty, 38, a popular Indianapolis-area promoter who also served as a pregame entertainment staffer for the Indianapolis Colts, died tragically the night of May 30 in a senseless shooting incident near downtown. Here are some tributes from just a few of the people who can say they knew “Mr. Indianapolis” best.
By Andrew Walker Jun 12, 2020

Loyal friend. Trademark smile. Trusted business associate. Bear hugger. Avid Indianapolis sports fan.

That's a good starting point if you're trying to sum up the life of Chris Beaty.

But late May 30, Beaty added another descriptor to the list:

Hero.

Beaty, 38, was shot multiple times near his downtown Indianapolis apartment after witnesses said he rushed to the aid of two women who were being mugged. Tragically, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Beaty was one of two men killed that weekend in separate senseless acts of violence in downtown Indianapolis; about three blocks away, Dorian Murrell, 18, was also found fatally wounded early the next morning.

Today from noon until 6 p.m. ET, Beaty will be memorialized at a public visitation service at the Pavilion at Pan Am in Indianapolis, a venue he knew all too well in recent years as one of the city's more popular event promoters.

But Beaty was much more than that. The founder of Fresh Marketing, Beaty also owned and managed various clubs all around the city, had just launched another company, Worldwide Masks, to help address the needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he also served as a pregame entertainment staffer the past two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts, assisting his longtime friend James Waldon, or DJ GNO, in getting both the Colts players and the fans hyped up on gameday.

"Chris Beaty was a great friend to the Colts, and to his community," Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted on June 3. "Chris made the world a better place — unlike whoever needlessly ended his life."

Most people are lucky if they can say they have one best friend, let alone two or three. Beaty had dozens. Here are some tributes from just a few of those who knew the man known as "Mr. Indianapolis" best.

Standing near midfield at the RCA Dome, Chris Beaty wrapped his arms around teammate Marques Newson, grinned that famous Chris Beaty grin, and pumped his right fist into the air.

Sure, the two previous state championships were great, but to go out on top as a senior, as one of the top defensive linemen in the state — and on his way to play collegiately in the Big Ten Conference for the Indiana Hoosiers? Beaty was on top of the world.

It was a moment four years in the making — at least to Rick Streiff.

Streiff, the legendary former head football coach at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, remembers in 1996 when he inherited Beaty, a talented defensive prospect, from the middle school ranks. But it didn't take long for him to find out that to play big-time high school football in this area, it was going to take much more than pure talent and potential.

"Chris took a while to come into his own, but not real long," Streiff said. "He came to us as a junior high star, if you will. And his freshman year, it took him a while to figure out that there were other guys as good, if not better, than him, and that if you wanted to play, he was going to have to go to work."

So Beaty learned right then and there how to grind; how to really hustle to get what he wanted.

A key piece of one of the more talented football classes in recent Indiana high school football memory, Beaty — an Indiana All-State honorable mention selection his senior year — would turn that attitude into three state championships.

"He became that guy where he realized, 'If I'm going to play on this team, I've got to have to work. And I'm going to have to find my role and my niche because there's some really good football players in this program.' And he did that and he grew up," Streiff said. "And there's kids that have a lot of talent that pout and never get it done. Chris became the guy that said, 'I'm going to go to work. I'm going to get better."

Streiff is confident that Beaty's drive to be successful after high school — particularly in his professional endeavors — got its roots on the practice fields at Cathedral High School from 1996-99.

Beaty continued to support the Cathedral program long after he graduated; now those quick sideline chats and big hugs are cherished memories for Streiff.

"I think that's the thing that's kind of the glue a little bit right now, that's kind of holding me together: knowing that that Cathedral football played a huge part in Chris' growth and development," Streiff said. "And I got to watch him grow and mature into a guy that saw everybody else in the room as a VIP the moment he walked in. He made other people feel special and that's a gift. And so that's kind of the story with him, is that he had to come in and really work hard. And he developed into a worker, took that on to IU and was able to be in the mix and do some things there. And then once he graduated, he just took that work ethic and applied it to his life."

Stuck in a summer school class just before the start of his freshman year at Cathedral High School, Otis Shannon gazed out the window, longing to be free.

Making matters worse: he had a clear view of the football team taking part in a summer practice.

But one player, in particular, caught Shannon's eye.

"I was looking out of the window and I noticed this big guy with his shirt cut into ruffles hanging out the bottom of his jersey, and it just looked so cool," Shannon said. "So I wanted to be him; I wanted to copy that.

"He later said absolutely not, that's his thing," Shannon continued, laughing. "And from there on we were best friends."

That player was Chris Beaty.

The year was 1997, and Beaty was about to be a sophomore in high school. He eventually began taking Shannon to two-a-days practices, and when he told Shannon's mom he didn't typically eat anything in the morning before heading to the field, she insisted he stop in for breakfast.

He quickly became like an extended family member.

Shannon would go on to star as a running back at Cathedral; named Indiana Mr. Football in 2000, Shannon set the state's all-time rushing record. But that kind of notoriety so early on can have its effects on a high school kid, and Shannon said he felt fortunate to have a guy like Beaty as a constant presence in his life.

"Obviously with my success in high school at Cathedral, he was one of the few people that actually asked me how I was doing every day. That meant a lot," Shannon said. "He was just a tremendous support for me at a time where I didn't really have too many people in my corner."

The two remained close after high school; Beaty even helped Shannon as he tried to navigate a career in professional football after college.

"He was there at the very beginning when I was chasing my dream and encouraging me and making sure I got up to work out at six in the morning, and it was there when I was done at noon and making sure I ate right," Shannon said. "Our relationship goes into personal business, professional, family. I mean, we are connected in a way that I really can't explain."

Beaty served as one of Shannon's best men at his wedding. He was there for the birth of Shannon's children. Likewise, Shannon was there for Beaty as he began to carve out his own career, at times going from job to job in the Indianapolis area.

"I lost a brother. There is no other way to put it," Shannon said. "He's been in my life through my ups and downs and I've been in his life through his ups and downs.

"It's just been a blessing to know him. He also made sure that I'm always around and I always got a bite of the apple with him, just being a part of his extended family," Shannon continued. "It's a tremendous loss for his family and everybody that knew him because he was such a great spirit."

It was the summer of 1998, and Geist Reservoir was the place to be.

James Waldon had just graduated high school, and he was at a party at a friend's house on the water, when all of a sudden he's introduced to this big 16-year-old kid named Chris Beaty.

"I just remember him smiling and laughing real loud. He was just so happy," Waldon recalled. "He was just really having a good time, you know? He was just happy, just so happy-go-lucky, like a teddy bear, cracking jokes. We got introduced to each other through mutual friends, and we were immediately friends ever since."

Waldon would go on to attend Indiana University, and his new friend Beaty would follow suit a couple years later. The two became even closer after college, building a solid reputation in the Indianapolis area club scene, with Waldon performing as DJ GNO and Beaty helping him land gigs all over the city.

The two owned a nightclub, Revel, from 2018-19, and Waldon would eventually land a job as the pregame DJ entertainment for the Colts' home games at Lucas Oil Stadium; Beaty, of course, was his right-hand man, helping set up his equipment as well as wearing the headset and giving Waldon his cues.

"You count on him to do things the right way. He had good morals and good standards, he tried to keep things above board," Waldon said. "He communicated — very, very excellent communicator. He was very detail-oriented. Like, if I needed a press release, me and him would write it. If I wrote one, I'd send it to him at least to edit it and proof it for me. He was that type of person. He was very formal in his e-mails, he always paid attention to so many details and he's just a treat and a treasure to work with on many facets."

Beaty also knew how to razz his friends with the best of them.

Waldon remembers in September 2018, when he was going to be opening up for DJ Pauly D at The Pavilion at Pan Am Plaza in Indianapolis. Beaty and Waldon had just bought their club, and they were getting everything ready for what was sure to be an eventful Friday night.

"I had a gig at the Pavilion, I get dressed up all nice, got my brand-new Jordan 1s on, some nice socks, brand new outfit. I'm about to open for 2,000 people for Pauly D, at the Pavilion, and me and Chris are out throwing trash away; we're trying to prepare for opening," Waldon said. "Here's a big bag of trash that I grab, and it was leaking profusely. I didn't notice it, and I swung it around to throw it up in the dumpster, and a gallon of trash juice shoots all the way down my leg. All the way into my feet. He went crazy when he saw that dumpster juice hit my leg, because he knew I had to go perform right across the street with a leg full — and a sock full and a shoe full — of dumpster juice, basically.

"So when I saw him later, he said, 'How was your show, DJ Dumpster Juice?'" Waldon continued, almost unable to contain his own laughter as he recalled the story. "He knew I had to perform with my leg just riddled with the most disgusting combination of juices you could possibly imagine. It smelled terrible. The way he laughed at me when he saw that — ah man, he cracked up laughing. He had tears in his eyes, he was laughing so hard."

The friendship, the laughs, the advice, the behind-the-scenes magic? All cherished memories Waldon will never forget about that big kid he met at the reservoir.

"You really can't put a price on how valuable he was, because he just did so many different little things that added up to being priceless, you know what I mean?" Waldon said. "He just always seemed to be there for everything big. You could really rely on him."

A wide-eyed freshman from the small city of New Albany, Ind., population 37,500, Larra Overton stepped foot onto the Indiana University campus in 2001 and, at first, stuck to her comfort zone.

A track and field and cross country athlete at the school, Overton initially didn't dare mingle with the basketball, football and soccer players that seemed to have their run of the Bloomington, Ind., campus.

But Overton was able to escape her bubble, and eventually she was introduced to a then-sophomore nose tackle from Indianapolis that become a friend for life.

Yep, you guessed it: Chris Beaty.

"Chris instantly was this dynamic, engaging personality, who you met him and you gravitated toward him," Overton said. "He had this just incredible inviting energy that you felt a connection with him instantly. And as a freshman, you don't think anybody is going to pay attention to you — and maybe you don't even want anyone to pay attention to you because you're so overwhelmed. And Chris was always the guy who at dinner at training tables, he would almost always make the rounds. He would pop over to your table, sit down and say hi."

Overton and Beaty remained close in college, but drifted apart a bit once they embarked on their respective professional careers.

But about 10 years ago, when Overton moved to Indianapolis and eventually took a job at FOX59/CBS4 as a morning show traffic reporter, and then later as a sports anchor and reporter, there was her old friend Beaty, always willing and able to lend a helping hand.

"He was the ultimate connector of people," Overton said. "And I mean that in terms of making connections, friends to friends, but then also just having such a genuine interest in you, in your happiness, in your wellbeing.

"And he was such a cheerleader, a champion, an advocate for you," Overton continued. "In every sense, you walked away from a conversation with Chris and almost felt like you've been given some sort of pep talk in the sense that he would tell you, 'I'm so proud of you. You're doing awesome. You're doing great.' It was just the most energizing feeling, because he had such a way of connecting with people."

Last year, Overton was hired to her dream job, becoming a producer, host and reporter for the Colts. One of her favorite home gameday rituals throughout the 2019 season was running into Beaty on the sidelines.

"We are so fortunate to have the privilege of the jobs that we do talking about sports, covering live events, but some days, gamedays, are stressful, especially pregame when you've got a million things going on. And maybe a couple of things are popping up that you're trying to troubleshoot," Overton said. "You're in that mode of just go, go, go, this, this, this. And whenever I would see Chris on the field on gamedays, it was this sense of calm, this sense of happiness. I would always look forward to getting that big old bear hug, seeing that smile, and taking a pause for that point in time to chat with him and being reminded of just how significant these opportunities are."

Overton tears up and she looks at her phone and pulls up her last-ever text message exchange with Beaty.

Their friend, FOX59 anchor Lindy Thackston, had just revealed she was battling colorectal cancer.

"He just reached out to see how Lindy was doing," Overton said. "He knew I'd spoken with her and he just said, 'She is in my prayers. She's so strong. I know she's going to get through this.'"

In fact, Beaty's final tweet was sent to Thackston on May 26, just four days before his tragic passing.

"Sending love, thoughts and prayers as you start the journey," Beaty wrote. "You got this @lindythackston. Stay strong! 💯💪🏾"

"That was Chris, thinking of everybody else and letting everyone else know that he had your back, he was there for you," Overton said "He was supporting you, whether that was vocally, whether that was through prayers, whatever it was. And that is just something that to me describes the ultimate selflessness and just truly the ultimate friend. And I've said this time and time again, whether you had known Chris for 15 minutes or 15 years, you knew you had a genuine friend in him."

A safety out of Merrillville High School, Brandon Mosley had interest from several nearby colleges, including Northern Illinois, Illinois, Michigan and Purdue.

But Mosley's visit to Indiana University sealed the deal — he wanted to play for the Hoosiers.

It was star wide receiver Courtney Roby that hosted Mosley on that visit to IU's campus, but when Mosley wanted the extended tour, Roby knew just who to call.

"Courtney was like, 'You know what? I got the perfect person for you,'" Mosley said. "And that's when he introduced me to Chris Beaty, that first day on my official visit."

Beaty sold Mosley on the entire Indiana experience.

"And from there, Chris pretty much took me under his wing and took me around campus, introduced me to the baseball players, the softball players, the basketball players, football team, you know what I mean?" Mosley continued. "So that was the first time I met Chris, when I was at IU."

While the two were never teammates with the Hoosiers — Beaty graduated just before Mosley's first season — they remained close friends.

"Yeah, man, he definitely embraced me and took me under his wing and just was showing me the Hoosier Way, you know what I mean?" Mosley said. "And when you first meet him, you can just tell like, man, this guy has all the energy. Everybody loves him, he's very personable. Just everywhere we went, everybody knows him. So you could tell just by being around him, 'Ah man, it's a lot of love in the air. It's always up in the air when you're with Chris Beaty.'"

The two grew even closer after college. Colts games, Pacers games, the Indy 500 — you name it, you were likely going to be seeing Beaty and Mosley somewhere in the mix having a good time.

And everywhere they went, Mosley remained in awe of Beaty's seemingly never-ending list of contacts.

"You can just tell, like, man, this dude, everywhere he goes his relationship with people is just amazing," Mosley said. "Everybody knows him, everybody loves him. He was always a kind person that loves communicating with people, building relationships and really enjoying all the different experiences that he had with people."

From the day he met him that day in 2003 on Indiana's campus, to their final conversation on May 30, Mosley will never forget the way Beaty made him feel.

"If you were ever around Chris, you knew how genuine of a person he was and you knew that he really valued people and friendships," Mosley said. "And especially if you were doing something that motivated you, he was always encouraging and he always wanted to see you succeed — see anyone succeed, no matter what they did."

Joey Wagner had been telling Chris Beaty that he was eventually going to be needed in a big way, but couldn't tell him exactly why just yet.

Then, in 2016, Wagner called Beaty once again — it was time for him to pack his bags and come to Louisville for a couple of weeks. It was one of those "I'll explain when you get here" type of things.

And Beaty, as promised, was ready at a moment's notice.

When Beaty arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Louisville a few hours later, Wagner finally let him in on the secret.

Wagner's company, J Wagner Group, had been personally selected by the family of Muhammad Ali to help produce the memorial and funeral service for the iconic boxer and activist, who had just recently passed away.

And Wagner knew he needed Beaty's help to make sure everything went off without a hitch.

Beaty had the privilege of meeting Ali in the past, but this opportunity was truly the honor of a lifetime.

"Jaws dropped and he was like, 'Are you kidding me?'" Wagner said. "When Chris found that out, and the rest of our team found that out, they were just like, 'Wow. This is crazy.'

"He was right there with me at all times," Wagner said of working with Beaty at Ali's services. "I mean, because, obviously, him being in the event world and having the event background, he was someone that I loved and trusted."

Beaty and Wagner's friendship spanned almost 20 years. They were introduced to each other through a mutual friend, Jason Buckner, back in the early 2000s.

"Basically, the way Jason introduced us was, 'Joey, this is the Joey of Indy. And Chris, this is the Chris of Louisville.' So it's like, I'm kind of him, he's kind of me, and that's how we met. And we've been tight ever since.

"He was so nice and just humble that first time we ever met," Wagner said of Beaty. "And the scary part about it is when Jason made that introduction to us and I was really starting to get to know him, I saw so much of me in him, and I think he saw so much of me in himself. And I think that's why we just became so close and so compatible, because we're in that same world."

Beaty eventually became a trusted part of Wagner's event planning team, helping take on tasks from mega clients like the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup.

And Beaty returned the favor in Indianapolis, in one instance "rolling out the red carpet" for Wagner and his father at the Indy 500.

That kind of gesture, Wagner said, will never be forgotten.

"I brought my dad up there, and we had everything taken care of from the police escort into the track to suite tickets to pit passes," Wagner recalled. "He took care of me and my dad. And I'm forever grateful of that, because it really wasn't even about me, it's just my dad is a huge IndyCar fan his whole life, and to be able to take my dad up there and get him to experience that was pretty special to me."

What's clear from these anecdotes — and these are just a few of many that have been shared over the past couple weeks — is that Chris Beaty was a larger-than-life type of figure; a positive influence who went out of his way to make friends, and even strangers, feel special.

And over the next couple days, Beaty will be memorialized not only as a great friend and businessman; he'll always be remembered as a hero.

Beaty's family released this statement a few days after his death:

"We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support for Chris since his murder over the weekend. It has not been a surprise because Chris lived and loved passionately every day of his 38 years on this earth. From his time at Cathedral, to his four years as a student-athlete at Indiana University, to his dedication to making Indianapolis a better place, down to his last moments when he put his life on the line & became a hero — Chris was someone who always put others before himself. He truly was one-of-a-kind, with a giant heart filled with love for everyone he met, consistently working to break down racial barriers.

"We encourage everyone to live like Chris — to love others boldly, to stand up for what's right, to live every day to the fullest. #LiveLikeChris."

To honor Beaty's legacy, his family has established the Chris Beaty Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will benefit students at Cathedral High School and Indiana University. Those looking to donate can do so by clicking here.

Beaty is survived by his mother, Debra A. Beaty-Cooper; his father Robert E. Beaty; his sisters Rhonda Cooper, Christian Haley, Ajehla Haley, Clay Haley Jr., Alaidren Haley, Jared Thomas and Jordan Thomas; aunts and uncle Francine Roberson, Victoria Carr, Beverly Liddell (Rev. Donnell), Yvonne Mayfield, Dennis Wright (Gloria), Willie White (Cheryl), Michael Cooper (Ardranda).

"Thank you for all of your kind words, support and love," Beaty's family wrote. "Please continue to recall the stories from Chris' life as they are constant reminders that will keep his memory alive."

Public visitation

Those wishing to pay their respects to Beaty can attend a public visitation from noon to 6 p.m. ET today at the Pavilion at Pan Am, 201 S. Capitol Ave., in Indianapolis. According to The Indianapolis Star, to adhere to COVID-19 pandemic guidelines, 25 guests will be allowed to walk through the building at a time. Attendees will be required to wear face coverings and are asked to maintain a distance of six feet from those around them to comply with social distancing measures.

A private family funeral for Beaty will follow on Saturday.

Got info?

Those with possible tips about Beaty's fatal shooting are encouraged to contact both the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department as well as Ryan Grote, one of Beaty's friends who is offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the incident.

Tipsters can reach IMPD's homicide unit at 317-327-3475, or call Crime Stoppers' anonymous tip line at 317-262-8477.

Those with tips are also encouraged to reach Grote through his Facebook page; they can also send information via direct message to @ampharris on Twitter.

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