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HIS DAUGHTER MEADOW
"I think my mom said it best," Paul Walker told PARADE in 2009. "She said, 'Little girls soften their daddy's hearts.'" The actor was close to his 18-year-old daughter Meadow – in 2011, she moved from Hawaii to California to be near him. "She's a bit more like her mother [Rebecca]," he told PEOPLE in 2011. "But she's also how I am innately. [Meadow]'s more of a free roamer and she appreciates the little stuff."
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Founded in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Reach Out Worldwide was Walker's passion project to help people devastated by natural disasters. "You put goodwill out there, it's amazing what can be accomplished," he said in a video celebrating the two-year anniversary of his charity, which shows doctors and aid workers going to far-flung places, from tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to a tsunami-devastated Indonesia. His final effort was a Winter Drive toy drive for the organization; it was following this event that he lost his life in a car accident.
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Walker, who wanted to be a marine biologist if he wasn't an actor, got to have one of his childhood dreams realized – meeting Jean-Michel Cousteau. The self-described ocean addict posted a photo of himself with the French explorer and environmentalist, Tweeting, "Met the legend, Jean-Michel Cousteau. Son of my childhood idol Jaque [sic] Cousteau today."
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Walker name-checked screen legend Paul Newman as his favorite actor. And like the iconic Hollywood star, Walker was a self-described "total gear head" who loved race cars – as did Brian O'Conner, his character in the popular Fast & Furious franchise. "My grandfather was a race car driver," he told Askmen.com. "It'll always be a big part of who I am, that’s for sure, not to mention the Fast and the Furious component." He owned a car shop in Valencia, California, called AE Performance, and purchased the Nissan Skyline R34 he drove in 2 Fast 2 Furious.
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Walker frequently posed for photos with Fast and the Furious fans, and following his death they gathered at the site of the accident, leaving flowers and candles as a makeshift memorial. Sandra Caipo, who visited the crash scene, told NBC Los Angeles that she initially thought Walker's death was a hoax. "It was just unbelievable. It's just shocking."
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Walker loved the ocean, and was active in a variety of other athletic pastimes as well. He held a brown belt in Brazilian jujitsu, and also practiced Muay Thai kickboxing daily. But it was surfing that took precedent: "It keeps things grounded for me," he told Men's Health. "It's where I came from, and it's who I am. I sometimes struggle, because my job is like the antithesis of what surfing is all about. Surfing's simple. It's real." One of his most-cited quotes was, "The rest of the world disappears for me when I'm on a wave."