Five years after Paul Walker’s tragic death, family and friends are opening up about the surfer, movie star and devoted dad who died in a car crash on Nov. 30, 2013 at the age of 40.
Despite his stardom, those in Walker’s inner-circle say what he loved most in the world was surfing and spending time with his daughter Meadow, who was just 15 at the time of his accident.
“He loved being a dad. He was so proud of her,” his brother Cody tells PEOPLE.
A year before his death, Meadow, who had spent most of her childhood living with her mother in Hawaii, decided to move to California and live with Walker. During this time, the two grew extremely close.
Walker’s mother, Cheryl recalls the joy it brought him to participate in Meadow’s daily activities, like a school dance. “He helped Meadow’s date pin on his boutonnière and drove them to the dance and picked them up. It was so sweet,” she says.
For more on Paul Walker’s life and legacy pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
The morning of his death, Walker and Meadow had gone out to breakfast and later planned to buy and decorate a Christmas tree. But sadly, the happy day turned into a nightmare. After leaving a fundraiser for his charity Reach Out Worldwide, The Fast and the Furious actor decided to take a ride in a red Carrera GT Porsche driven by his friend Roger Rodas. It crashed (lawsuits by the men’s families contested a sheriff’s report that the car was speeding) and exploded, killing them both.
“[Meadow] moved back to L.A., he’s really excited about it, and then poof, he was gone,” says Walker’s brother Caleb adding, “He didn’t love the spotlight. He had so many other interests in this world that really made him happy.”
In a new documentary, I Am Paul Walker, premiering Aug. 11 on Paramount Network produced by Derik Murray of Network Entertainment and directed by Adrian Buitenhuis, those closest to him are opening up about his life and legacy.
Today Meadow, 19, who reached a settlement against Porsche in a wrongful death suit in 2017, is a model in New York City.
“Paul thought the world of her,” says Walker’s father Paul Walker III. “No father loved a child more than he did Meadow.”
- With reporting by Kara Warner and Dana Rose Falcone