Avery Drost played with Eric Zaun before the 25-year-old died by suicide last week
The beach volleyball partner of Eric Zaun, who died by suicide last week, is speaking out in the wake of the athlete’s death, remembering him for his unique spirit and charm.
Avery Drost was the partner and close friend of Zaun, 25, and the pair played their final game together at the AVP New York City Open on June 9, two days before Zaun jumped to his death from his hotel room at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.
Drost, 32, wrote in a lengthy tribute on Volleyballmag.com that in the wake of Zaun’s passing, he’s been “overwhelmed with sorrow” upon realizing that he “could have appreciated him so much more.”
“I keep looking at him and marveling at how special he was, how uniquely and wonderfully he was made, and realizing that just a few days ago he was right there next to me,” Drost wrote.
“His imagination was so big and his sense of adventure was so wild, he pursued the things he loved far beyond the limits most of us would be comfortable in. He so vividly envisioned a new and creative way to approach his life, that convention didn’t even occur to him.”
Drost continued, writing that while he loved Zaun, he “didn’t always understand” the athlete, and they sometimes did not see eye-to-eye.
“He operated on passion, and went hard in whatever direction he wanted to go in, and sometimes I imagined that he didn’t care too much about how that affected anyone else. Sometimes it bothered me,” he wrote. “I thought about some of the ways he acted largely in terms of how I was affected. But I didn’t always look deep enough to see what was happening inside of him.”
Drost said he now regrets the times he spent dwelling on the aspects of Zaun’s personality that he “didn’t understand” as opposed to “just enjoying my brother that I got to do life with.”
“I truly never imagined that he hurt so deeply, and when I got the call that he was gone, and that he had taken his life, I so instantly wanted to reach out and hold him, and I cried uncontrollably realizing that I would do anything to have one more chance,” he wrote.
Drost wrapped his message with a special note he wrote to Zaun, addressed to his nickname “Road Dog.”
“Thank you for being my friend and for touching my life. It was an honor to know you – I learned so much from you and my life is so much richer for having been near you,” he wrote. “I’m going to keep trying to play, and I know I will always be different for having had you as a partner and having felt the pain of losing you.”
Drost’s wife Alyson, meanwhile, also shared a heartfelt tribute to Zaun praising his love for the couple’s daughter, Blake.
“Our whole family loved Eric. He was always so, so kind to me and the kids,” she wrote. “Blake adored him, loved cheering for he and Avery and loved to show Eric all her new tricks… He asked me every time I saw him if he could babysit.”
Zaun made his AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour debut in 2017, scooping up the rookie of the year prize.
“The AVP is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Eric Zaun. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. He will be deeply missed,” the organization wrote on Instagram.
Zaun’s final Instagram post featured a photo of him playing with Drost with the caption, “June is gonna be a good month.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.