Justin Wright 1981-2008
Justin with girlfriend, Ashlee
It was a shock. I read the mail late last night and it kept me up. This morning we gathered in a small screening room as a Story department for the formal announcement before the news goes out to the studio. Justing Wright passed away last night.
Justin was a very enthusiastic person and full of energy. You'd never guess that he had already gone through so much in life.
Justin’s journey to Pixar has another plot twist. He got introduced to the famous studio because of a heart transplant. When Justin was born, his heart had all sorts of complications: cardiomyopathy, a complete block, a hole between the upper two chambers, a hole in the mitral valve —the list goes on. Finally, when Justin was 12, his heart had been through too many surgeries and procedures to be of much use, not to mention that it was the size of a deflated soccer ball inside his slight 70-pound body. It was time for a transplant.
With a lot of time spent in hospital beds recovering, Justin drew pictures (a hobby he says he started as a kid when he got bored in church). His doctor at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children's Hospital noticed Justin’s interest, and one day, after Justin was fully recovered, took him on a tour at Pixar, where he had some connections. Justin was enthralled—this was what he wanted to do.
I didnt get to work alongside Justin and my memories with him are few. I do remember the day we, the Story Supes, met to decide on accepting Justin to the Pixar story crew as a full story person, no longer an intern. We put on long faces to fake him out and Mark Andrews said that it wasn't going to work out but we couldn't really continue with it and we just said, "Welcome to Story!"
He was so happy. He could hardly contain the energy in his lanky body and even promised that he would work hard and prove us right. He didn't really need to say all those things, we knew he had it in him and the months since then proved it all. I wish we had more time with him.
Our sincerest condolences to his family, our thoughts and prayers are with them.
I'll post more details on this post as I receive them.
Justin Wright's blog Charlie, a deck hand
Pacific Union College Alumni: Justin Wright
Remembrance Blog Roll
Yarn and Coffee: Justin
The Animation Blog
The Pixar Blog
Update March 24, 2008
A drawing I contributed to honor Justin last Friday when his family came to Pixar to visit with us. There were boards of his drawings, a sequence he did and caricatures of Justin. A Dave Matthews song (Justin was a huge fan) rendered by Plot Device, the Story band. Family, friends and co-workers spoke--Andrew Stanton spoke as well as John Lasseter himself--about the best of what Justin left us--his optimism, disposition to have fun and willingness to engage in all manner of debates (who will win, Superman or a Jedi?). We were his work family and we miss him.