RIP Paul Hunter If you don't care about people you don't know dying or don't care about this individual please don't comment. Paul Hunter, 27, snooker player died of Cancer yesterday. RIP. Golden boy who was denied the chance to carry on shining Clive Everton Tuesday October 10, 2006 The Guardian With his easy, fluent style and ponytail of blond hair, it was easy to see Paul Hunter as snooker's golden boy but the future implicit in his exceptional talent is now cruelly denied him and his many supporters after he died of cancer at the age of 27. An outstanding English Junior champion, he became the youngest ever world ranking event semi-finalist in the 1996 Welsh Open at 17. He was to win the title when he was 19 and again in 2002 although his career lost momentum in the interim. "Last time after I won this, all I did was go drinking and clubbing," he admitted at the time. "I used to get stuck into the vodka big time. I'd go boozing the night before a match and yet I couldn't understand why I was losing." There were pranks like streaking along the Blackpool promenade for a dare but also a failed drugs test for marijuana. He became a hero for clubbers, carousers and ravers who recognised him as one of their own although it did eventually dawn on him, without losing that consistency of support, that there was an imbalance between his pursuit of pleasure and devotion to his craft. At the close the 1999-2000 season, in which he did not reach a single quarter-final, he lost his opening match at the Crucible: "I went home disgusted with myself and realised I had to sort myself out." The following February he began his run of three Masters titles in four years. After trailing Fergal O'Brien 7-3 at the end of the afternoon session of the 2001 final, he made four centuries in six frames in the evening in prevailing 10-9. In his cheerful, unembarrassed way he admitted that he and his future wife, Lyndsey, had made good use of his hotel room in the 2Â½-hour interval. "Let's just say I was a lot more relaxed for the afternoon session," he quipped in his victory press conference. His two other Masters titles were also won from losing positions. Down 5-0, he beat Mark Williams 10-9 in 2002, the year in which he also won the British Open. In 2004 he turned a 7-2 deficit against Ronnie O'Sullivan into a 10-9 triumph. His best run at The Crucible was in 2003 when he eliminated the defending champion, Peter Ebdon, to reach a semi-final in which he led Ken Docherty 15-9. Needing only two of the final session's nine frames, no one expected Hunter to be long detained but four hours later he was walking out of the arena a stunned 17-16 loser. As Hunter accepted his disappointment with characteristic grace, his consolation appeared to be that he would have many more attempts at the world title. But it soon transpired when he lost in the second round to Matthew Stevens the following year, the closest of his many friends on the tour, that he was not in any condition to make a realistic challenge. Cancer was diagnosed - multiple neuroendocrine tumours - shortly before the 2005 World Championship and when he entered The Crucible to a heartfelt ovation to play Michael Holt he confessed he was almost reduced to tears. He lost 10-8 and was to win only one match in the 2005-6 season as pain and the side-effects of his treatment drained his stamina and the feeling in his hands and feet. During one cycle of chemotherapy, his wife said: "He was so bad that he vomited about 30 times in three days and he'd be in a heap on the bathroom floor with his head down the loo saying 'I just can't take any more'." His golden hair disappeared and his opponents were torn between sympathy and the necessity to attend to their own results. None took any joy in beating him. In what was to prove his last visit to The Crucible last spring, he said: "I'm probably worse off than I was this time last year. The pain in my side is 24/7 now. I get stiff and lightheaded. Obviously, I didn't expect to win tournaments or anything like that but I had to try to tough it out." When a player makes his exit at the Crucible, his press conference often ends with someone saying "see you next season" but those of us could see how ill he looked could not restrain the thought that for him there might not be a next season. His cheerfulness and positive attitude throughout his hellish ordeal were remarkable and the arrival of his daughter, Evie Rose, on Boxing Day 2005, together with the steadfast support of Lyndsey and his family at least provided comfort in his last months. A world ranking of fourth was the highest of an all too brief career which earned him Â£1.53m in prize money, Â£15,000 of which he donated to help set up the Neuroendocrine Tumour Patient Foundation, and a charity golf day in his name in August 2005 raised Â£80,000 for Leukaemia Research and St James Hospital in his native Leeds, where he was treated.