Mikey Riley and Jared Busch

Recorded July 24, 2010 Archived July 24, 2010 38:54 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX006942


Self-described “best friends forever” Mikey Riley, 23, and Jared Busch, 23, talk about their friendship and Mikey’s battle with drugs and multiple sclerosis.

Subject Log / Time Code

Friends share what they thought about each other in kindergarten and remember some anecdotes of elementary school.
Friends discuss MR’s rambunctiousness and outlandish behavior as a child and adolescent.
MR started doing drugs in high school. Friends recount some of the messes made. MR remembers going to a drug rehabilitation camp in Ontario, Canada.
As a teenager, MR constantly felt the need to prove himself.
MR was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) toward the end of high school. He went to China for stem cell treatment that eventually was unsuccessful.
MR recounts his religious awakening, his religious views, and his work with a youth ministry.
MR to JB: “Thanks for not running out.”


  • Mikey Riley
  • Jared Busch

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


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00:04 My name is Jared Bush. I'm 23 the date. Today is July 24th, 2010 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I'm here to interview my friend Mike Riley my best friend.

00:17 My name is Mikey Riley. I'm 23 years old today is July 24th, 2010. We are in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Jared is my best friend. Yes. Well, we're here today because I'm we I heard about storycorps coming before when I was really excited and I thought you know.

00:42 I would love to do that, but I just don't have any like story that'll last 40 minutes. So I thought like who would know that I could have this and I thought I would have to be Mike and Mike is that you know, my best friend and I know he has just a plethora of stories, you know, and I think you know, he probably could film 40 minutes about what he did today. So we were thinking about this Mike and I you know, we met up and we thought we talked about and so many things like it when you went to China was it when you

01:17 You know desolate Canada for summer was it when you are when you're driving tug boats on Lake Michigan, we've been friends for 18 years and price. You just talked about that. I mean

01:37 It's not like any kind of normal friendship. I don't think we are not very alike in a lot of ways no end.

01:46 You know, I find it really hard to explain our friendship because

01:50 Mike is a person who is always been Full Throttle, you know go for it doesn't do it active rock and roll and I've been more reserved like I sit back and I think before I talk and sometimes my guy down might does not go with that. And so I just thought I'd be a good topic just to go over our friendship in the moron Mike story cuz I'll be honest. It's almost kind of a selfish thing because I just want to know more about what my friend thought through most of his adventures and how he felt about me. So is that cool Mike? I'm ready now.

02:34 You know when we met up in what grade school kindergarten time, but I remember bits and pieces of it is like mrs. Bonus was our teacher. She had a finger that was curved at the very tip her first her first name being Dorcas and laugh every time he still laughs at it. But I mean, I do remember like you just being off the wall and you know hear me like we're in the small Lutheran School and I'm staying in Hellraiser doing in this school and I kind of want to keep my distance, but you wouldn't let me

03:21 We developed this friendship and still didn't make sense. Cuz I always want to please the teacher and I think I was attracted to you for your qualities and you're attracted to me for my qualities because we just didn't really have those the other persons qualities in our own life. So it's like on a tractor on some level and what do you remember anything from me like back then cuz I've always wondered like how did you see me? Yeah, I saw you is like I said is rambunctious out of control person. I just didn't understand so I had to understand I just remember you being physically you were chubby but like chubby redhead redhead, but you had this columnist to you and I remember you just being

04:09 When you talk to me, at least you just seemed intelligent and and I like to feel like that would rub off on me a little bit. So I would like to think so. So, I think you have the qualities about you that attracted me to you is someone that I was like this that could be fun to hang out with was just what created you to be who you are just like you said calm you think things through and I like that about you and then if I don't think if we would have been hanging out at that time like certain of the activities we tied Mike seems so brainless like we would take

04:49 Hot Wheels cars and didn't smash him and then bury him and then look for him like a month later and Legos were a big part of our lives.

04:57 Lots of Legos Legos, but I remember like still trying to understand this black-haired like kid bouncing off the walls by all but like chained to the desk, you know what I mean? It's hard and it still has specifically remember like you just would go like I didn't think you knew what you were doing. Like there was one time. Do you remember when there was a young girl named Jessica and second grade and she really loved the song waterfalls by TLC and you knew that but you were off the wall and you went to her face going don't go chasing waterfalls.

05:39 You don't make sense and then you wrote frog legs on a chalkboard really big and she started to cry remember that because man you did that stuff all the time. It was inspirational to me and mrs. Tyson's class first grade fever second. And then we separated in like Middle School, whatever going to end up going to different schools and in 5th grade. We I moved away like about 40 minutes away. Yeah, because we like hung out everyday literally for for the first five years of our schooling life. And so of course and we did like even when I moved to Leo 40 minutes away, it was like

06:28 Every weekend I would drive my parents would drive me to your house or your friends to drive you to my house just kind of worked out. I remember like we would go you come to my house and go to the lake you had the time to drive up north to the lake and there my mom would say like to go to an art man on his and my mama to say like throw them in the water. I just so he can wear himself out and I'm just thinking like I'm getting worn out just looking at him like on the ride home. I once you decide to open the sliding door on our van going 70 miles an hour and my parents are so used to at the time. They're just like, all right, Mike close the door to his house children's lives were at risk.

07:14 Can you just close it and everything was okay? Yes.

07:18 No, man, but

07:20 You know my mom getting back to her sheet you since you know, Micah never been friends for this long. She said once a

07:30 Mike Riley is either going to be in jail and prison or he's going to be a millionaire. So I'm not a millionaire yet. There is no yeah. Your mom was always really awesome. I just remember her being having both of our moms because there is such a different places in life. They like took us both in as they know what surrogate children I hope it is not like it just kind of a testament to our friendship. My mom would say, you know, he is leaving to be in prison or millionaire and your mom would just say he likes of steamed carrots and we got to Middle School in like wind up getting to that was weird awkward.

08:29 Awful puberty age. I was kind of pictured you I can my mind. I always thought like Mikey like is this like like a forest fire right is out of control while then hit puberty nice is adding awkwardness to the fork forest fire. So it's like putting sprinklers of like gasoline in a forest fire pants.

08:55 So did I also remember you?

08:59 And I would get different friends at that time. I could get friends from our school from your school and I'll get back to separate friends and

09:08 Like did you where you ever like excited to introduce me to like your other friends? Yeah, of course. I was remember in middle school because I always talked about you. So I think starting in like sixth and seventh grade when I emerged into the high school building because it seems like people through around the term best friend really easily. Oh, well, I'm hanging out with my best friend, but then like at lunch they would have a different best friend and they just but to me, I knew best friend only to mean Jared Bush so I always will talk about you may say what who's your best friend? It's it's Jared. He doesn't go to school here. But yeah, I constantly would talk about you and cuz we were always hanging out and so yeah now it

09:58 I just held dear to that term best friend right remember like introducing you to some people I'd be hanging out with and I would talk about you is my best friend by Comeback Kid my best friend. Who's that night? You remember when you meet him and

10:15 I want to be honest. I was always extremely

10:19 Nervous every time when I was introduced you to someone new like this is my king and I was afraid you're going to like lick their face or like you no pants on or something and sailor recite the alphabet backwards and you know, I was always there was always in the back of my mind. I was so proud of you but it's just one of these things like working with a loaded gun here. But yeah, I remember I remember one time when you took me to that maybe this is Amir a little bit older, but you took me to that youth group thing on Coliseum and like Lake Area you remember that means but you took me there and I did just that. I remember you feeling like a man pants anybody but I just was Extremely Loud & Ike and and I remember you feeling a little bit of the alright finally is happening. He's my worst nightmare is coming true.

11:19 You can comment on this route has felt like sometimes however, we made sense of the like friendship was you were like, you know, how puppies will just like really excited and run and piss puppies running right peeing smashes into a glass wall and he's like her in his own penis is kind of like that. I'm like, they're like, it's alright, man. You didn't mean to you wouldn't he just got a little excited?

11:53 I was always it was always me being me and then you fixing it seems like it was just the circular pattern of all throughout our friendship. And yes if you shave with somebody is like and I think that's kind of what you're more than more or less. What you what you're talking about here. Like when you start realizing what a relationship with somebody else is like do you what was what did you say like about just the special relationship that you had with each other back then you feel like he had changed a lot from when you were younger than you think how many two years are never going to see this guy again, or how how did you throw pillow?

12:45 Well, I knew it'd be different but there's a snake I just I've always had this feeling that no matter what I do I even if I try I could never get rid of Mike.

12:55 And even know if you could change a different elements that even to this day we could go for five months not talking to each other we have and we would just say hey to go to a baseball game for me for me. It was just so clear. I don't know because that Bond was so intense. I mean, I knew even at a middle school / High School level that Jared is going to be the best man in my wedding someday. This is just something that if you get married, I'm getting married solutely made sense to me amongst all the confusion that has happened in my life. That is the one thing that was always super consistent. I knew that you were going to be my best friend forever.

13:38 Till death do us part.

13:42 Man pinions bromance

13:47 So yeah, I mean, I've always felt the same way and I were best friends. We've established that we've established that if you haven't been listening we establish were best for establish that in your like what's going on your head and things are starting to change in high school cuz I'm starting to figure out like what my identity is and this is what I started interrupt. This is where I feel like you got laid next you got sharp find I fine-tuned a lot of those special skills that I had and then I introduced drugs into them and that blossomed into just a lot of really dangerous borderline psychotic activities and it just never ceased is just Full Throttle in bad decisions and all that stuff and it's weird though because as I created my identity in that Jared's

14:45 Consistency with me cuz we would smoke pot and stuff together. But for you is like one not often known as I wanted a million, but not often and then

14:59 And then I saw you kind of like peeling away from that stuff and but I didn't I just like can you think of a time when you were just like the crazy? So the crazy new ended up like you had to eventually get me involved cuz you would always get me involved eventually.

15:16 One way or another I'm thinking about like Ryan's house.

15:21 Where he lived in Harlan, right? So that's like 20 minutes away we go over to Ryan's house and we're in the basement and we just got Stoney bologna and it was really ridiculous. For some reason. It just made me really likes kind of sick to my stomach and then we're driving home. I'm dizzy and Jared's going down 37 and you were driving driving how I was writing you pulled over to normal. I opened the door and just started puking all over the place and then a cop sauce and he made and he called my parents. So now my parents and okay, we're coming home and we pull in and I'm just I'm just it's just stupid and Jared tries to explain and

16:09 My parents will like what do you have to say for yourself? And they're standing over you they're totally waiting for me to just explain things and I just said in the most pitiful voice. It's just it's all in my head just all in my head and that's when my face dropped into my hands and it was bad man, but I've been there so many times and I think High School is it man like when you took a truck on mushrooms and drove it into the cornfield on a train track. There's a timeline

16:50 Well, okay.

16:52 So had just been a night of partying and I of stupidity and I had ended up back at Jared's house. And I remember I had eaten like psychedelic mushrooms and a lot of alcohol all these kind of things. So I'm pretty like not there and I remember watching SpongeBob with you and Andy up in your room. I did that to babysit for you. I thought you they're hoping you'd yeah, but I didn't I ended up going into the basement and then from the basement I just was restless and I remember like I really do remember this going up in just deciding to walk through the neighborhood and I'm just stealing things from people's backyards and from cars and I just happened upon this truck that had the key in the ignition and and I thought oh well

17:41 I'll just take this out for a little bit and I ended up taking that truck and I like was driving through corn fields and how is just so crazy. I just don't.

17:52 Looking back on it. I know now that God's hand of protection was on me in a big way, but I destroyed this truck desecrated this truck. If I remember correctly. You trick a local farmer driving you home, but I hope you wasn't your house you walk into a stranger's house yet. You wouldn't trace my address. Yes until the farmer left ear and I had no shoes on and yet I got this guy to give me a ride home and it was just ridiculous, which is getting home and I got home. The first thing I did was went to your room if I 2 a.m. And I was like Jared dude, I stole a truck and you were like in your half awake just go to bed. And then I took a huge pile of change out of my pocket place it on your desk or whatever and then just went and passed out and then I remember this clearly you waking up in the morning seeing the change coming downstairs immediately.

18:52 Sing do I think you should probably leave and I like being serious cuz I'm very weird because I woke up and saw a change on my desk wasn't dream plus a SpongeBob air freshener. Yeah, so I knew it was you just got done watching SpongeBob.

19:17 Once again, you brought me right back into it while I'm always brought you into it.

19:23 You're my BFF. What did you think I would fix it? Cuz I couldn't fix that. I just needed to tell you I never kept anything from you. So have you sent to a teen Rehabilitation Camp Nazi prison camp called that Northern Ontario Canada for three months to try and work on my

19:47 Drug addiction and I was an awful time in my life. Would you mind you in just one story that yeah, I favor one cuz I have tons of pay there are tons of stories, but just to set the scene. This is an awful awful place for me and it's just really difficult and I'm cold turkey on all these drugs and

20:10 Okay, so

20:12 There's one point where they made us go on these I 24 and 48 Hours solos away from the camp in. This is in on a huge Lake and they placed me on an island where all the other kids were on somebody of Mainland. That was all connected. They Place me on an island because they said that I was a runaway risk.

20:31 Which was probably a good idea because later on I did run away, but that's not part of the story. What happened on this story was?

20:40 We had to do certain things. We had to meet a criteria build a shelter start a fire when we were given one match like a raw potato a granola bar and a canteen water and we had like a compass all these things but I ended up doing was I knew that the front side of the island the people who are watching with binoculars from far away could see so I did everything that I was supposed to do but then on the other side of the island, I transplanted pieces of the fire from the small I controlled fire to the back of the island and just build this ginormous fire that was in Alex stood out on this rock like in in the lake and there is like people on this late cuz there was a popular fishing place kind of not a lot of people and I just made this rip roaring fire and was like throwing huge like logs on it and he's guys like him off to me and I explained like yeah my parents put me in this drug rehab camp, and I'm here.

21:40 Like 3 months. Do you have any beer or anything in there like not if we drank all the beer, but I got a pack of cigarettes. So I got a pack of cigarettes on your when you're supposed to be learning this violate, you know valuable lesson being alone with Wilderness you're smoking with it was glorious. Glorious. What was your mindset do drink during all this time? I mean, it seems like you had like this really intense like adultolescence where you were probably just full of like this nervous energy all of the time, but I'm wondering if you could describe you know, what why did being a teenager feel like for you? It felt like I needed to prove myself constantly because I think ultimately I just had no idea who I was or what I wanted in life and through that. I just needed people to know that I stood for something and I knew it.

22:40 Good and what I knew was making people laugh and being very strong-willed person. It was really just me trying to figure out who in hell I was and not until later did things start to make sense, but it seems like all this all these craziness. It was just I wasn't trying to necessarily impress people. I just had this

23:05 Raw

23:07 Energy inside of me that just never went away. I'm going to still have that energy. It's just nonstop. Yeah, it's more it's constructive. Now. I use it for good but back then but not the back then it was just out of control.

23:27 To see your friend. I mean you did say that you weren't doing what he was doing in that kind of my next question because it for me is just like I knew this guy to me and still kind of is I was thought Mikey was invincible like a monkey could do anything like you could jump off a cliff with which he probably has and Bok jump back up and do backflips, you know and be awesome. Yeah, but and then, you know near the end of his high school, you know, if he found out he has Ms. Not Invincible what then you know, even then I thought this guy I know he's going to get it. I mean, what were you and with everything going on like and then you find you have MS. Like what were like the first like two to three things in your mind?

24:14 I thought because one thing I have failed to mention is there is a picture of God in my life a little bit and I remember being diagnosed with MS. And it was awful too because I just like my whole left side of my body just went and bright side of my body just went completely numb and

24:34 Panda

24:36 And I just woke up in the hospital in like I had the worst vertigo ever everything is just spinning in my vision. Yeah, and it was just and I just felt everything had left. I had no control over my body and it was really scary. And I remember like being really angry at whatever. I knew God to be at the time and just thinking this is so unfair I had house in ready to go to college and

25:06 I just remember being so confused and scared because it just did not make any sense. I just almost seemed completely unrealistic and I always when I found out about that, I remember seeing you like you'd be in the bed with the vertigo in your eyes be rolling around your head and I'll just think like

25:26 Why I can't do anything for him. There's times now that I wish I could take some of this but ultimately know I couldn't and the most thing I still had this feeling and if he has bestowed this feeling like it's not going to affect him like he's going to take this and he's going to run with it. Like he's going to make you know, Ms. To do what he wants in a sense, you know, I was more scared. I was like if I couldn't I was lacking as a friend like I wasn't there enough where I what I couldn't do enough or and I still to this day. I feel kind of bad about not being able to provide enough.

26:05 Were you at that time? I remember I always remember the opposite because when I was in Canada drug rehab, I remember the letters came from you and those were the letters that I found the most comfort in knowing that you were thinking about me and wishing the best even though it was just an awful awful situation. And I remember I do remember you coming and visiting me in the hospital and a lot of people came and uncles and people from churches and an other friends, but that was just like, okay like I'd rather puke without you being here in and then when you showed up you rather puke with me there much rather would have fused with you being there even though I'm I'm like fighting off.

26:52 Unconsciousness in between the horrible spasms and I'll just awfulness. I just remember you being there and I kept bringing in a comfort but nothing else really brought in. So I think I think that's kind of dumb for you to think because you always provided what I needed the right moments. We just typical of you to call me dumb when I'm stating what I'm thinking, you know what I mean? Yeah, I appreciate it, but it's pretty classic.

27:22 Weber Downey

27:31 But like I said, like I knew you would and you did something about it though. Yeah, like most people like I got Ms. You know what I would do if I go to a cave I got to go to a cave and right soliloquies about how sad you know, it is what you do. Oh man. Yeah. I just got this bug this fire lit under my but I knew that I needed to fix this. I know with my with my mindset. I just knew that I had to fix this is quick as possible. And so I started researching stem cell therapy and I started to learn very quickly about what was offered in the United States and in and I got signed up for this this treatment at Northwestern Memorial in Chicago, Illinois. Well Insurance fell through and and I didn't work out and so are we getting an email about this stem cell therapy in China and

28:25 The way things happened it just that that is then where my focus became so through months of fundraising.

28:34 I'm a raise a little over 36 Grand enough to pay for the treatment me and my mom to go over to China shinya Sheen young which is in like Northeastern Wyoming Province to go over to China for 35 days to receive this umbilical cord stem cell transplant with

28:55 With my adult bone marrow stem cell transplant and tan and off. We went to China to try and fight this thing to fix what my body was destroying now. I remember eat fruit for your fundraising you did an auction like a huge Ox did the mayor actually named a day after you yeah. Yes. It is Mike Riley day. I don't know you don't even know your own bed now, but there's a day after me. It's one of those things like I had a day. I would tell everyone I would raise the my face on flags on my day.

29:38 Well, I guess you just got another ride people. I guess you just got to get Ms. And do a fundraiser at school. I do remember.

29:52 Well

29:55 Yeah, I mean.

29:57 When but when you're in China though still like even then I thought I felt like he still invisible and

30:08 I guess I never really explained that to you and I that's why I feel like now is a good time to tell you. I always thought I don't think it'll ever died to be honest immediately right afterwards when you came back you. I was the first one.

30:26 That you told everything about I was at the airport, I had to regurgitate everything that I have experience to someone who would understand from would like to watch what exactly happened in China.

30:41 When I was in China, they all man it was crazy. I mean I was physically healthy enough to actually get to experience China at the time the symptoms weren't so bad that I couldn't really get it but it was just crazy. The treatment itself was I would get these spinal cord injections of umbilical cord stem cells and then they took my own bone marrow, which they harvested from my hip bone and it was just absolutely excruciatingly painful. I got acupuncture every single day and and I have this treatment done and growth hormones and all this kind of stuff.

31:24 But I came home from it all and and I have perfect health for 9 months. I remember having perfect tail for 9 months and then bam like the MS was back. So I know that the treatment in China was ineffective, and that sucked but

31:43 I guess that reminds me of another story because this whole time I'm trying to figure out who got is and I'm trying to figure out why I have this and and I remember very clearly one day. It was like March of 2008 to put a timeline on it and

32:02 I was upstairs felt the left side of my body this time. I lost all strength so I could even pick up a pencil I couldn't press the clutch in on my car and I could barely walk my left leg in my foot with dragon the carpet do we have thick carpet in my upstairs? And I remember walking over to the couch or something and my left foot caught on the carpet and it just made me face plant into the ground cuz I tried to catch myself, but I couldn't cuz I had no strength and I just facetimed it right into the carpet. And and I remember I didn't cuss I didn't swear. I wasn't angry. It was like everything in that moment made sense and it was weird because I started laughing hysterically and it was me and God just like laughing about this and I was like, okay. Alright God this is this is all

32:53 On you and I'm not going to carry this anymore and it was magical. It was really a supernatural experience because it was at that point that I had released my disease to God and my relationship with God then started to really change and I had I had God in my life at this point, but this is one thing that I was really holding back on and from that moment. It seems that my relationship with God and Jesus Christ just really started to turn into something that was very real and healthy and it just changed me to be this like psychotic person that did crazy stuff into someone that loves the Lord with all his heart and is tamed now in a healthy way. You know, I like I work with high school kids for this High School Ministry in and I can I use my Insanity to like show kids who Christ is and I just remember that story though of the moment of where things changed.

33:53 Now you just fell and what better way mean better way for God's to shake you then to make you laugh cuz I'm trying to do all the time. Yeah, I'm only trying to make everybody else laugh. But this time God just made me laugh by throwing me into the carpet.

34:10 Yeah, and that those experiences you explain to me before like now that you've had this happen. I mean you've taken us in saying this garbage in your life that was just makes for a good story. But ultimately the bruises and you never regret but you you've made it as a tool to help others. And yeah, you know really looking back like in retrospect now that I am mature but mature enough to understand things on a different level. I know that everything I experienced whether it was, you know craziness with with my adoption or you know, drug running or or whatever.

34:57 I know they all that stuff built up to be.

35:00 Built up to create in me.

35:03 Who God needs me to be to meet to be the most effective person to show the world who Christ is and for people who I get to spend time with and for people who I get a chance to genuinely love they get to experience who Christ is through my own personal experiences. And yeah it is it makes sense. Why would I steal a truck and destroy it for no reason to ask me something. You know, I've always felt this way verbalized it to but I've always felt that you know, Mike does all these things. You never call me Mikey.

35:42 No, I'm the only person in the world. Yeah, always everybody calls you my key. And I'm the only person you think that is waiting on the other one. I called you but it is who I am. Everybody calls me. Like you're the only one I think you I think that's kind of how you you show me you like keep me. Can I see this place of normalcy and you know that by calling me Mikey you're almost saying like it's okay to be psychotic, but by calling me Mike that's like your way of of like pull in the reins back a little bit. It's like a it's like a reminder. It's not a bad thing. I just know that it's it's just unique. You never even never called me Mikey.

36:30 I think we can actually I think we could have actually like summed up this whole like 40 minute thing. Just saying like hey, I'm Jared Bush, you know Lutheran pastors grandson. I like reading cooking playing piano and I'm friends with a grown man named Mikey likes and I can't lie. I can't get rid of this guy who sings you didn't you just built into a tool. I've always felt like

36:56 I've always needed like thank you because I feel as if I got said let Mikey do that stuff. Okay. I have something special for him. Let's let him try drug running from Detroit on him, you know Kyle this stuff let him fall and get hurt in and tell you about it cuz you you're not built for that.

37:14 And I've always kind of felt that way and it's true. I would I would collapse like I told you yeah, I do. I think you've lived vicariously through a lot of my experiences because it's almost like you were so closely related to them because like you said I would tell you first even if it was the most insane thing and it was almost as if you got to experience that through my

37:42 Through me you're welcome. I I think you've had enough though. We've had enough.

37:50 I'm not going to steal any more trucks.

37:55 That's a good thing. That's not possible. But you're welcome. I think I think I just want to tell you, you know.

38:10 Thanks for not running away. I wanted to actually go back to the way we were way younger there were times when I said to my mom I said, hey, can I go home now and see like knobs for a little bit longer.

38:25 And I couldn't do that once you had a license.

38:39 Nothing else to say. Man minutes left. I love you. I love you, too.

38:45 What's my favorite color? Do you remember green you're so wrong bad for him?