In the sunshine of Southern California, where so many aspire to stand-out, a San Fernando Valley native, never even had to try.
"He had a million-dollar smile," said Tara Addeo, the sister of Gavin Smith, a father and hoopster on John Wooden’s 1975 national championship team.
Gavin Smith, a hoopster on John Wooden’s 1975 national championship team. Gavin Smith, a father of three boys.
I knew how much he loved them," said Addeo, his sister.
But Smith, a former movie actor turned movie executive, suddenly and completely vanished.
"He was a striking individual, tall, fit and, I think the idea of a person that goes missing out of nowhere is intriguing and tragic," said Lt. Dave Dolson, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The 57 year old is long-believed to be dead. Now, the Sheriff’s Department reveals for the first time that it’s official.
"A judge has ruled a death certificate for Gavin," Dolson said.
NBC4 has learned this murder mystery may finally be solved.
"He died on the night of his disappearance," Dolson said.
Smith's sister believes she knows who it is.
In Minden, Nevada, one of Smith's three siblings, Tara Addeo, his only sister, braces for May 1.
"Just talking about it, I know, helps," she said, through tears. "That's the day two years ago when Gavin disappeared.
"But you can't ever be prepared for something like that because it just doesn't seem real."
Smith was last seen that night in Oak Park. From then on the 6 foot 6 20th Century Fox film distributor and his Mercedes-Benz were nowhere to be found. Until last year when detectives caught a break.
"That was probably the worst day," Addeo said.
In February 2013, Smith's Mercedes was found tucked away in a storage facility in Simi Valley.
Back in Nevada, Addeo's phone rang. It was a detective.
"He said I don't know how to tell you this but Gavin isn't coming back," Addeo said. "There was enough biological evidence to prove that Gavin was killed."
Dolson said the evidence found was a "major piece of the puzzle" without elaborating.
The man linked to the storage facility is named John Creech.
"He is a person that we are looking at," Dolson said.
Months before the Mercedes was found, investigators, with a SWAT team in tow, executed a search warrant at the Canoga Park home of Creech.
"Creech's wife and Gavin were in rehab together so they struck up a relationship and that is basically the starting point of Mr. Creech being looked at as a possible suspect," Dolson said.
John Creech isnt going anywhere anytime soon.
He's a convicted drug dealer currently serving eight years in prison. But he's not talking to detectives .
"Our job is to figure out what happened," Dolson said.
Big questions remain. How did Gavin Smith die? And if this is a homicide, where's the body? Dolson said the remains could be recovered, but did not elaborate.
"It is just a void," Addeo said.
Two years later, finding Smith is still a priority for detectives.
"He is missed," Addeo said. "He is missed every single day."