One Victorville couple received more than well wishes from a familiar-looking stranger in 2004 while shopping for an engagement ring at an upscale jewelry store in Santa Barbara.
Kyle and Kristen Upham, newlyweds, had noticed another young man in the store with them while browsing the options, but they didn’t pay him much attention. “I realized there was someone else in there but didn’t give it much consideration,” Kristen said of the mysterious man. “We just started looking at rings and stuff,” the couple explained.
Kyle, who had recently returned from a stint in Iraq, eventually struck up a conversation with the man. Kyle discovered the other shopper was none other than Paul Walker after addressing their respective careers and finding that the stranger worked in the film industry.
The handsome Walker had a reputation for being one of Hollywood’s nice men, thanks to his work on the “Fast & Furious” series. Walker seemed to exist to counteract the notion of hotshot action heroes, despite his good looks and matching wage. Rather than dismissing adoring fans, Walker was always patient and giving with his time. As a result, he left a lasting impression on everyone he met, notably the Uphams.
When the pair approached the actor, they noted that he had changed after learning about Kyle’s military service record. The two, probably accustomed to others’ admiration, didn’t think much of it. They eventually left the store empty-handed since they couldn’t find a ring within their budget. Then, with a present bag in hand, one of the store staffers dashed out after them.
The Uphams had put off their hunt for an engagement ring since they couldn’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on one, and much of the items in the store was out of their price range.
Kyle Upham was determined to locate the ideal ring, regardless of the cost, when the two came. “He kept telling me, ‘Go bigger,’ and I kept telling him, ‘No, look at the pricing,’” Kristen recalled the day. So, despite the fact that a $9,000 band had caught their eye, the pair left empty-handed. Walter appeared to step in at this point.
Unbeknownst to the Uphams, the actor purchased the ring, possibly inspired by Kyle’s service. Kyle’s deployments had been mentioned casually by the couple, who had no idea how it might affect Walker. “We swapped names and chatted about what each of us did when we were talking,” Kyle recalled the nearly routine conversation. “And I recall seeing the smile on his face when he found out [my husband] had just returned from Iraq,” Kristen said. “In a way, he changed.”
Walker, on the other hand, made no mention of Kyle’s service or even hinted at what he was about to do at the time. The three merely parted ways after their lighthearted exchange. Soon after, the Uphams departed the business empty-handed. When an employee chased them down, the pair didn’t immediately associate Walker with the selfless act.
Kristen recalled the incident as follows:
“‘Here’s your ring,’ one of the ladies said as she emerged with a bag. I believe both of our mouths fell open.”
The couple retained the gift receipt because they were curious about their good fortune. The Uphams assumed that the boutique employees had pooled their funds to purchase their ring. When the Uphams inquired about who had bought the expensive ring for them, the personnel remained tight-lipped. Instead, they simply grinned and said it was best if it remained a secret. The case of the unknown benefactor was only solved until one employee broke ranks and disclosed the story on the Monday night news. It was then that the Uphams discovered Walker was the one who had purchased the ring.
Walker, who made his Hollywood debut in 2001 with his first role in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, spent most of his money on automobiles that suited his character. He had a Rolls-Royce Ghost, a Maserati Quattroporte, a Ferrari Testarossa, and a slew of other classic cars. Unfortunately, the motor enthusiast died tragically in a single-vehicle accident in 2013. Fans were devastated by the accident. Walker was more than just a fictitious vehicle thief; he was a member of the franchise’s family. Walker would appear in “Furious 7” as a digital depiction after his death.
Walker would be remembered by the Uphams for this remarkable gesture of charity. Kristen reflected on that day in Santa Barbara, saying, “It’s still the most generous thing someone has ever done for me.”
She went on to say how the ring reflected Walker’s personality, saying:
“His true life reveals a lot about his personality…
He truly put his money where his mouth was and helped the world.”