Glen Gondrezick, UNLV basketball legend, dead at 53

Gondo’ apparently died of complications from a heart transplant

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Glen Gondrezick fights for a rebound. Gondo, a key member of the Hardway Eight, was a gritty player who played a number of roles for the Rebels.

Gondo

Glen Gondrezick, days after receiving a transplanted heart. Launch slideshow »

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  • Glen Gondrezick talks about how much prayers meant to him. (Oct. 2008)
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  • Gondrezick talks about what he's looking forward to. (Oct. 2008)
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  • Gondrezick talks about reaching out his donor's family. (Oct. 2008)
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Sun Blog

Glen Gondrezick, the UNLV basketball Hall of Famer who received a heart transplant in September, died today at St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson, apparently as a result of complications due to the surgery.

He was 53.

Bonnie Griffin, a close acquaintance, said he died around 5:30 p.m. while waiting to be airlifted to UCLA Medical Center after becoming ill.

Gondrezick was one of the stars of UNLV's first Final Four team, averaging 14.7 points and leading the 1976-77 Rebels in rebounding. He was a second-round draft pick of the New York Knicks and spent six seasons in the NBA, two with the Knicks and four with the Denver Nuggets. His most productive pro season was 1981-82 when he appeared in 80 games for the Nuggets, averaging 8.3 points off the bench.

After he retired from professional basketball, Gondrezick returned to UNLV where he served as the Rebels' broadcast analyst for the past 17 seasons.

Gondrezick had been suffering from heart disease for nearly 10 years. He was placed at the top of the transplant list shortly after the 2008 UNLV basketball season and finally received a donor heart on Sept. 20 of last year. Although he returned to his broadcast duties and seemed on the road to recovery his health recently took a turn for the worse.

In a March 29 interview with the Sun, Gondrezick said he started feeling ill during the Rebels' final road trip of the season at San Diego State.

Since the transplant, he had been making monthly trips to UCLA Medical Center where doctors were monitoring his progress. Griffin said his next scheduled appointment in Los Angeles was going to be May 6.

She said she last spoke to Gondo, which is what his friends and teammates called him, at around 4 p.m. today. She said although he still wasn't feeling well, he was conversing freely with friends and medical personnel at that time and appeared to be in good spirits.

Soon after that, she said, his blood pressure began to fluctuate.

"It happened all at once," Griffin said, trying to hold back tears.

Former Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian said he was crushed to hear of Gondrezick's death because the last time they spoke, he looked and sounded good.

"I'm just so devastated, so sad," Tarkanian said when reached tonight. "He was the most competitive guy, and the toughest. He'd take a charge on anything that moved. He was incredible."

Tarkanian said that while Gondrezick's legacy will be helping lead the Hardway Eight to the Final Four with his hard-nosed style and tenacity, he'll remember him more for another trait.

"We always talked about being loyal to UNLV, and Gondo epitomized that," Tark said.

"I just loved that guy."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV.

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  1. RIP, Gondo.

    You will be missed. We Rebel fans are greatful to have had you in our lives for so long.

    Thank you to the wonderful medical staff at UCLA for all you did for him and giving us another season with Gondo.

  2. RIP Gondo :(

  3. games aren't going to be the same without you calling them. wish all the best to friends and family. you will be missed.

  4. UNLV lost a legend today. RIP Gondo.

  5. I am shocked, the last time he was on TV he was looking pretty good.

    Rest in peace Gondo, you will be missed. I remember watching you play when I was younger and I was so happy when you started being the color man.

    Good memories.

  6. In some ways he was a perfect example of how to live - each day as if it were your last and to plan as if you were going to live forever. His loss and each loss like this defines our fragility and is sad. Gondo got some extra time to be part of the wonder of this world. May he rest in peace and may he enter peacefully into the next stage of his journey! May the Lord bless and keep him in his arms!

  7. You will be missed big guy.

  8. Your heart and soul will always be with the Rebels.

    Maybe they could name the steps leading to the Thomas and Mack the Gondo Stairway.

    God bless his soul.

  9. Gondo was more than a great basketball person, he was a great man.

    I did not know him as a basketball player, but I had the honor to know him as a person.

    I was lucky enough to enjoy some great times with him.

    He had a great wit to him, a great smile, and a great love for life. He was always generous and fun to be around.

    Big fella, You are in my heart, Goleno

  10. We will miss you Big Guy.You were a great player and wonderfull for Rebel Basketball. Listening to the games will never be the same without your voice. May you rest in peace.

    Your Florida Rebel fans

  11. I can't believe it- thought he was on the road back. Gondo-not only a great Rebel, but a GREAT human being. God bless you brother, rest in peace.

  12. Sad day in Las Vegas. Gondo was all about loyalty to the UNLV program. He showed it in the way he played and the way he spoke about the program on the air. Thanks for all you did throughout the many years, Gondo. Rebel fans will miss you, but we will remember you always.

    Already know it's going to be tough to not hear him on the radio next fall. He was a constant voice for many of us.

  13. Rest in peace

  14. I want to echo the same sentiments as all of the previous posts.

    I'd also like to know what happened? From all accounts he was getting better everyday. I know it doesn't matter much now but just like everybody else I feel like his family, friends and our community was robbed of a great person.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all of his loved ones.

  15. My thoughts and prayers go out to Glen's family and friends. God bless.

  16. You will be missed Gonzo.

  17. If we lived our lives with the tenacity with which Gondo played back in those glory days, we'd be so much better off. He epitomized 100% effort and overachieving!

    His Rebel legacy will never leave us.

    Condolences to all family and close friends.

  18. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family right now. Rest in peace, Gondo. You will be missed. I hope your family takes comfort in the fact that few human beings ever inspire the kind of admiration and love that you did from so many loyal fans. You made our world a better place.

  19. We will miss you Gondo!
    Thank you for all the good years, as a fan who listens to a lot of UNLV basketball on the radio I am greatfull for all you have done for my favorite basketball team.
    UNLV basketball will never be the same.

  20. Oh man this really hurts. I listened to his radio broadcasts for so many years that I found his voice to be comforting at times. RIP Gondo. God certainly got the best of us all when he Got you...

  21. A true Rebel and a proud Las Vegan ... Gondo represents what everyone says doesn't exist in Las Vegas. You will be missed.

  22. I had the privilege of covering Gondo for three years as a sportswriter for the Sun, right through the 1977 Final Four. He epitomized hard work and determination; Tark commented often on the bruises Gondo had on his chest from the numerous charges he took. His death is tragic, but we can thank God for the great memories he has left behind. Thirty-two years later, and I can still see him flying over the scorer's table after a loose ball.

  23. Loyalty,courage,passion,compassion,commitment,candor,humor... thank you Gondo