A Bum Deal – An Unlikely Journey from Hopeless to Humanitarian

A Bum Deal shares the inspirational story of Rufus Hannah who rose from the depths of despair to become the remarkable person that he is today. The story follows his life from childhood in rural Georgia, his homelessness, his “film star” status, known to millions around the world, unfortunately, as “Rufus the Stunt Bum” because of his participation in the infamous Bumfights video series and the unspeakable violence against the homeless depicted in them—leading to a worldwide epidemic of homeless abuse.

But his story didn’t end there….it is a story of incredible pride and perseverance, and a recovery few could have imagined. From Rufus’s criminal court case against the makers of Bumfights, and the civil trial (the trail that gave this book its name “A Bum Deal”) to Rufus addiction, recovery and rebirth with the help of co-author Barry Soper. This book shows how he went from nothing to a new life as an awarded advocate against the very violence he first fell victim to. The memoir shows how Barry a simple businessman gave Rufus a chance to change his life around. Rufus’s story is inspiring to anyone who has ever struggled with personal demons and life challenges, and wondered where they would find the strength to survive even one more day.

Rufus Hannah is an advocate for the homeless, and currently an assistant manager of a townhome development. He was formerly featured in the infamous Bumfights videos and was labeled “Rufus the Stunt Bum” by radio shock jock Howard Stern.

Activist and businessman, Barry Soper, is chairman of the board of Oak Grove, a nonprofit educational and residential treatment center serving 160 children, ages five to eighteen. Oak Grove, headquartered in Murrieta, CA, provides twenty-four-hour care at its three campus dormitories for many of these children, the majority of whom have suffered physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or serious family conflicts. Soper has served on the board of St. Vincent DePaul Village. A key center for San Diego’s large homeless population, St. Vincent DePaul’s mission is to help its neighbors in need break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by promoting self-sufficiency through an innovative continuum of care, multi-disciplinary programs and partnerships.


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Homeless star of ?Bum Fights? videos now has a home, a wife and a new book


It’s been more than 10 years since a local teenager paid homeless alcoholic Rufus Hannah $5 to crawl
into a shopping cart that was shoved down a flight of concrete steps, dumping him into a heap on the
pavement as the youth filmed.
This was followed by a series of death-defying acts that resulted in an underground series of “Bum
Fights” videos and Howard Stern branding Hannah a “stunt bum.”
On Oct. 29, 2002, Hannah decided to kick a lifelong addiction (beginning with beer in his baby bottle),
thanks to the helping hand of Barry Soper. The Point Loma businessman met Hannah when he popped
“like a Jack-in-the-Box” out of a Dumpster behind a San Carlos town home complex that Soper owned.
He offered Hannah and his homeless buddy, Donnie Brennan, odd jobs, but Soper’s pleas that the men
enter rehab failed.
Finally, after Hannah rocketed down a freeway overpass support ramp on a skate board, head butted a
pyramid of stacked crates and badly injured Brennan in one of many staged drunken brawls, Hannah
asked for help.
Sober now for eight years, Hannah recently married the mother of two of his grown children, advocates
for the homeless and helps manage Soper’s 62-unit living complex.
Meanwhile, Soper wrote a book on Hannah’s life upon the advice of host Ed Bradley after “60 Minutes”
aired a “Stunt Bums” exposé in 2006. Hannah co-authored “A Bum Deal.”
The duo are planning a national book tour and already have nibbles from Hollywood film producers.
They hope to turn the tide of senseless attacks on the homeless into more compassionate handling of a
much misunderstood segment of our society.

Amazon Reviews are in and people love it!



3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars How a Man Fell and Rose AgainSeptember 30, 2010




This review is from: A Bum Deal: An Unlikely Journey from Hopeless to Humanitarian (Hardcover)

'A Bum Deal: A Memoir' is the story of the man who was the face of the infamous website BumFights, Rufus Hannah, aka Rufus the Stunt Bum. It chronicles his journey from early alcoholism and social misfit into a symbol of unrestrained greed and disregard for human life and finally a voice for others with similar troubles. It's a story that sounds clichéd in our times but still occurs all too often. And as is often the case, a human face and voice are what's needed to drive the issues home. 

It almost seems Rufus was doomed from the start. Coming from southern working class parents with alcohol problems, he was born jaundiced due to his mother's drinking. Even so, they often resorted to the old southern remedy of lacing the baby bottle with vodka to keep the child quiet. Yet the parents instilled a work ethic into all of their children that served him well when little else did. 

His journey takes him through failed marriages and jobs lost due to alcoholism across country and finally to San Diego where he meets Donnie, a fellow vet with similar problems. They migrate to Donnie's hometown of La Mesa where they manage an existence as the only homeless men in the town and are somewhat absorbed into the community. At the insistence of another resident they're hired on as handymen by Barry Soper, a local businessman. The three men are mistrustful of each other but over time they develop a real friendship- especially Rufus and Barry. 

A chance encounter with a HS student with a video camera- Ryan McPherson- sets them on the path to notoriety together. Ryan's callousness towards the two men is apparent to Rufus from the start but as he supplies them with the necessities, namely booze, they feel obligated to go along. Heat from the cops forces Ryan to move operations to Vegas, where things start to spiral out of control. Rufus and Donnie realize the danger they're in and contact their friend Barry, who helps spring them and gets Rufus on the road to recovery. 

This reads as a complete stream of consciousness work, as if Rufus simply talked about his life and the notes were sorted out. Events leap around a few times, especially in the beginning, as people and events are suddenly thrust upon you with little preamble. There's also some gaps left open towards the ending- especially his attempt to repair his relationship with his children, that's never followed up and leaves you wondering. 

'A Bum Deal' is not exceptional but intriguing at times and insightful into the mindset of an alcoholic. Rufus' emotions are raw and unfiltered, underscoring his helplessness, frustration and acceptance of his situation as well as his struggle to get them under control to save himself. It also provides a few details about the BumFight phenomenon, but more importantly, it's about the redemption of a man who fell too many times to pick himself up without the help of someone who cared enough to do so. And who doesn't need a helping hand once in a while? 


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?A Bum Deal? sheds light on San Diego homelessness

By Jenna Jay


Rufus Hannah has twice been a celebrity: first as “Rufus the Stunt Bum,” a name branded him by shock jock Howard Stern for his role in the film series “Bumfights,” and again as Rufus the redeemed, an author sharing his harrowing story of recovery.

What connects the two identities comprises the memoir “A Bum Deal: An Unlikely Journey from Hopeless to Humanitarian.” The book, released in September, is told from Hannah’s perspective but was helped along by co-writer Barry Soper, who also aided Hannah’s transformation from a transient alcoholic into a homeless rights advocate.

“A Bum Deal” chronicles Hannah’s hardships; he was an alcoholic by age 14 and a homeless vet by his 30s, and that was all before Hannah met Ryan McPherson, a La Mesa teen whose entrepreneurship nearly led to Hannah’s destruction.

Hannah, a Swainsboro, Ga. native, lived in a makeshift abode on the streets of La Mesa alongside fellow Vietnam veteran Donnie Brennan in the 1990s. Both of their lives changed when McPherson and his friends accosted the two one afternoon with a proposition to give them cash in exchange for a self-inflicting injury stunt.


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Former ‘bum’ beats the bottle

Army veteran was part of infamous underground video

By Michael Stetz

July 17, 2004

JOHN GIBBINS / Union-Tribune
Army vet and recovering alcoholic Rufus Hannah, aka "Rufus the Stunt Bum" from the shock video "Bumfights," took a break as a tent leader at Stand Down, the annual event for homeless military veterans.
The tattoos are still there, across his knuckles, spelling "Bumfight." Rufus Hannah wants them gone one day.

But first things first.

First thing this day, as is the case every day, is no more drinking.

No more waking up and reaching for a bottle. No more downing 12-packs of cheap beer before noon.


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?Bumfights? star changes course and refashions legacy


Rufus Hannah looks down at his hands and sees reminders of what he used to be, maybe the most famous homeless man in America. Famous in a bad way.He was the degraded and brutalized “star” of a 2002 video called “Bumfights,” which captured him in full drunken abandon, riding in a grocery cart down concrete steps, running head-first into walls, punching his best friend.

attooed across his knuckles are the letters B-U-M-F-I-G-H-T.He’s had three laser treatments to remove the letters, but he would need another two dozen to make them disappear.

The treatments are painful. He’s not sure how many more he can do.Ask him about the tattoos and what they represent and he admits some shame. But it’s not what you might think.

He doesn’t feel sorry for himself, even if all the head-bashing he went through left him with double-vision and a wobbly walk. He’s come a long way from the wild-haired, toothless cartoon that starred in the movie. Sober now for eight years, he has a steady job and a new wife and a life he likes in the San Carlos neighborhood of San Diego.

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Return to Las Vegas brings back memories for man known as the “stunt bum”


Posted: Dec. 9, 2010 | 12:00 a.m.
It's hard to believe Rufus Hannah is the same man pictured in the photo — the toothless homeless guy with the crazy hair and the word "BUMFIGHT" tattooed across his knuckles, the guy made famous, or infamous, for his starring role in a 2002 video that captured him drunk and performing stunts such as diving headfirst into a stack of milk crates.
Today the U.S. Army veteran is a clean-cut, sharply dressed man with a perfect set of teeth, a friendly face and kind smile. He's even at ease talking about his past in front of an audience, which he now does often.

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