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The Departed

These 10 now-famous Coloradans moved away from the Centennial State, but not without giving some things up. We weigh how well those decisions worked out.


India Arie
age: 38
Born: Denver
Resides: Atlanta
Left Colorado: Age 13
Gained: Collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Ashley Judd.
Lost: The opportunity to be part of Colorado’s music renaissance.
Verdict: Jury’s out

John Kerry
U.S. secretary of state
age: 70
Born: Aurora
Resides: Boston
Left Colorado: As a baby
Gained: Global influence and front-page headlines.
Lost: Manageable levels of stress. (And also a presidential bid, but who’s counting?)
Verdict: Smart move


Tim Allen
age: 60
Born: Denver
Resides: Los Angeles
Left Colorado: Age 11
Gained: A hit television show. Home Improvement ran for eight seasons and earned 27 Emmy nominations (and seven wins).
Lost: A clean record. Allen spent a little more than two years in prison for drug trafficking before becoming a comedian.
Verdict: Smart move

Amy Van Dyken
Co-host of Fox Sports Radio’s Fox Sports Tonight, Olympic swimmer
age: 40
Born: Denver
Resides: Los Angeles
Left Colorado: Age 28
Gained: Six Olympic gold medals.
Lost: The opportunity to coach Missy Franklin (and the next Missy Franklin).
Verdict: Should have stayed

Chauncey Billups
NBA player
age: 37
Born: Denver
Resides: Detroit
Left Colorado: Ages 20, 23, and 34 (thanks, NBA draft)
Gained: An NBA championship.
Lost: The chance to retire as a Nugget.
Verdict: Smart move

Trey Parker
age: 44
Born: Conifer
Resides: Los Angeles
Left Colorado: Age 22
Gained: Fame, fortune, and a cult following.
Lost: Not much—you don’t have to live here to use Colorado as fodder for witty derision on South Park.
Verdict: Smart move

David Fincher
age: 51
Born: Denver
Resides: San Francisco Bay Area
Left Colorado: Age 2
Gained: A Grammy, a Golden Globe, two Academy Award nominations, and the ability to list Brad Pitt among his friends.
Lost: Nothing. But then, how much do you stand to lose when you’re a toddler?
Verdict: Smart move


Heidi Montag
TV personality
age: 27
Born: Crested Butte
Resides: Los Angeles
Left Colorado: Age 18
Gained: A couple of cup sizes.
Lost: Those old-fashioned mountain values. And several layers of clothes.
Verdict: Should have stayed

Kristen Schaal
Actress/comedian, senior women’s correspondent for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
age: 36
Born: Longmont
Resides: New York
Left Colorado: Age 18
Gained: Starring roles in the Daily Show, Portlandia, and Flight of the Conchords.
Lost: A chance at the title of Centennial State’s Funniest Woman.
Verdict: Smart move

Karl Rove
Fox News contributor, former White House chief of staff
age: 63
Born: Denver
Resides: Austin
Left Colorado: Age 10
Gained: An audience.
Lost: His moral compass. (Ahem, Valerie Plame?)
Verdict: Given our state’s growing sea of blue—smart move

Illustration by John Ueland;(Arie, Kerry, Allen) Shutterstock; (Van Dyken) courtesy of MSNBC; (Billups) courtesy of Wikimedia; (Rove) istockphoto; (Schaal, Montag, Fincher, Parker) Shutterstock

This article appeared in the February 2014 issue of 5280.

Daliah Singer, 5280 Contributor

Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.

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