“AVENGERS” hunk Captain America CHRIS EVANS’ loving remembrance of a dead pal.
His best friend as a boy, Matt Bardsley, died in an off-roading accident almost a decade ago, and Chris, 30, carries the memory with him on a daily basis in a tattoo inscribed on his stomach.
It reads: “In Loving Memory, Bardsley, With Me Always.”
The words are an indelible tribute to his pal, who died at the age of 22 in November 2003 – but not before setting Chris on the road to success.
“Matt Bardsley was Chris’ best friend growing up in Massachusetts,” a buddy of the star told The ENQUIRER.
“Chris wanted to become an actor, but he didn’t know whether he was good enough. Matt encouraged him, told him that he could do it. So after he died, Chris dedicated his career to him.”
He made his mark playing the lead in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and reprises his role in “The Avengers,” based on the legendary comic book superhero team.
In a deeply moving tradition tradition, Chris goes back to New England each year to meet up with high school friends and pay homage to their late pal.
Chris is master of ceremonies at an annual golf charity event called Birdies for Bardsley, which supports the local tee ball league and gives youngsters their first exposure to organized baseball and sportsmanship, said the source.
“Chris and his pals always raise a glass to the memory of Matt, and Chris says, ‘Here’s to you, my friend! I wouldn’t be where I am without you. Cheers!’”