Bear was such an appropriate nickname for Bret Bearup. At 6’9” and a stout frame, Bear stood out in a crowd, even at Pepsi Center where tall people are more common than most other places on Earth. He often wore black, he slicked his hair back like Pat Riley, and carried himself with a confidence befitting a man of his size and with his wealth of life experience.

Bear’s life never wandered too far from the game of basketball. He was an all-American player growing up in New York and played at the University of Kentucky in the early 80s alongside Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin. He was affable, handsome, smart, and inquisitive, all qualities that helped him know (it would seem) every human on the planet. Throughout his life he played many roles around the game of basketball including as a financial advisor with a client list of over 100 high-profile athletes. Most recently, he was Stan Kroenke’s right hand man. Most of all, in my experience, Bear was a friend to almost everyone he met.

I’ll admit that I was a bit choked up when I heard the news last night that he had passed away at age 56. Bear was a man who had lived this big life, full of outrageous stories, jet-setting around the globe with celebrities. Forget 6 degrees of separation, Bear seemed to have a very personal, funny or interesting story about everyone you could imagine.

And yet, despite living such a big life, Bear always treated me like he was genuinely interested in me as a person. He’d stop by most home games and chat about anything and everything under the sun. He’d text me articles about artificial intelligence, a subject we both are obsessed about. He’d even invite me over to watch games with him in his apartment downtown. I’d love to believe it was because he thought I was interesting but the truth was he thought everybody was interesting. I smiled last night as I read through everyone’s tributes to Bear on Twitter because they all read very similarly to mine.

Bear was the kind of person that made an impact on the people that he met in life and I admire him for that. I’m also inspired by it. I’ll miss him around Pepsi Center, I’ll miss his Facebook feed which was equal parts witty, hilarious, and insightful. And I’ll miss his friendship. The Denver Nuggets family lost a good one. Rest easy, Bear.