Huge heart, most generous, loyal friend, talented, missed beyond measure
Harley was funny, loved to make people laugh, and was very generous. Two years apart, he and his brother, Cash, did everything together. They were “brothers in arms” and had the same interests. Harley played soccer and was a very talented artist and tagger, but what he was passionate about was motocross. Introduced to it by his father, Chris, he started riding at seven. He and Cash, and the family, practically lived at the track. After his parents’ divorce, the boys initially lived with their mom, but then moved in with their dad, where they were closer to the track and motocross friends. They got as much track time in as possible because they both wanted to be professional racers.
The motocross racing caused a lot of injuries to both boys. Harley damaged his knee, which resulted in several surgeries. He was given Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin for the pain. “I believe his addiction started then,” his mother said. “It got more pronounced when Harley was in high school and started getting in trouble because of it.” By 13, Harley was riding much less because of his injuries and surgeries but still went to the track to watch his brother and friends.
Harley was artistically talented, creative, and an entrepreneur. He started tagging in ninth grade, which earned him his tag name “Motoe.” He was also into music and discovering the newest, up-and-coming artists. Harley would reach out to them and see them perform live – often at a local music venue called The Observatory. He thought about becoming a mixer and music producer. Another interest was fashion. He found designers before they were well known and started wearing their clothes. When they became popular, he sold what he bought for several times what he paid for it.
After his school troubles, he moved back with his mom for a couple of years but quit school as the addiction got worse. He moved in with his girlfriend and others and started using heroin. “It took him down fast,” his mom said. When Harley got his driver’s license at 16, he signed up to be an organ donor. His mother didn’t know this until the organ donor representatives approached her at the hospital. She wasn’t surprised though, knowing Harley’s giving nature. Several of Harley’s organs were donated to others. The recipient of his liver wrote a book about positivity and dedicated it to Harley. It was very touching.
Harley’s friends still come by and remember him on his Angelversary, the date he passed away. Several have tattoos in Harley’s honor. Laura has joined several support groups where she can talk freely about Harley. She has a “Harley room” filled with his pictures and memorabilia. It doubles as a craft room where she spends a lot of time. She worries about Harley’s brother Cash, now 25, who has had a difficult time with his brother’s death. “It is hard to watch him suffering,” she said. “I lost my son, my sunshine. My son lost his brother, his partner in life. We have both lost part of our future. Once I am gone, Cash doesn’t have a brother to rely on and share his life.”
Harley’s mother, Laura Swank, provided the information for this narrative.
January 8, 1999-February 26, 2018
Age 19-Lived with the disease of addiction for six years.