Paul Hunter died six years ago today. He was only 27. Next week he would have turned 34, still easily young enough to have been competing at the highest level.
We all know about his career. He remains the youngest player to reach a ranking event semi-final at just 16. He beat five top 16 players to win the Welsh Open in 1998 at the age of 19.
He won the Masters three times, all in deciding frame finishes after unlikely comebacks.
He won a total of three ranking titles, reached a high of fourth in the world rankings and came within a frame of reaching the 2003 World Championship final.
These facts should not be forgotten because they sum up a career which was already successful and would surely have hit greater heights.
But Paul was a player about whom people thought not of statistics but his more human characteristics: he was always smiling, he was always determined to have fun. When he won he did so without triumphalism. When he lost he did so graciously without any bitterness.
He was, in every sense, a personality, someone who drew people to snooker. Those Masters finals were remarkable matches, not just through his recoveries but because of how well he played to win them, centuries flying in, pressure balls being dispatched, his nerve remaining firm to the end.
If Ray Reardon, who I wrote about yesterday, was one of those who lit the snooker fuse in the public mind, Paul was one of the main reasons it kept burning amid gross mismanagement and lost opportunities.
His cancer diagnosis came shortly before the 2005 China Open, a tournament now remembered for sparking the current snooker boom in China, due to Ding Junhui winning it at the age of 18.
Paul still travelled to Beijing to play, obviously deeply concerned about his future. The press knew he was ill but did not know the severity of his condition at this point.
After he won his first match we requested him for an interview. This can take quite a long time in China because various people want a piece of the player but a good 20-30 minutes passed with no sign of Paul.
We assumed he had left the building, and quite possibly cursed him for it. Someone went off to see what had happened and found him still in the arena, patiently signing autographs for fans.
Paul wasn’t a saint but he had a genuine goodness, recognised by snooker fans the world over.
He loved the game and the game loved him.