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Gonzaga mourns passing of superfan Christian Layman

UPDATED: Wed., June 17, 2020

Christian Layman attended Gonzaga games for the past 15 years.  (Courtesy)
Christian Layman attended Gonzaga games for the past 15 years. (Courtesy)
By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

Gonzaga superfan Christian Layman passed away on June 8 surrounded by his parents and family, according to an obituary.

Layman was born August 24, 1988, in Spokane and spent his life overcoming many health obstacles along the way, without allowing anything to divert his love and passion away from his family, his friends, his Hot Wheels collection or the Zags.

His connection to the Bulldogs is one that runs deep and holds a decorated history. He collected every article on the Zags that he could, enough to fill up a wall in his bedroom. He knew the answer to every Zags trivia question and could recite stats like he was reading them out of a book.

Layman was named the No. 1 Zag fan by multiple local news outlets as well as by former Zag Robert Sacre, who had a fun relationship with him.

“Anytime I saw him, I would yell his name and he would always wave, but sometimes I would spook him, but I didn’t mean to,” Sacre said.

“He was just a devoted Zags fan, and he is what this community is all about and what this community means to Gonzaga. I think he was a great representation of the whole community of Spokane.”

Sacre first heard about Layman’s death on Tuesday night.

Layman underwent open heart surgery on May 20 and was dealing with complications from the procedure over the next couple weeks.

“I heard it and was just … . Wow, I was shocked and he was always a big fan,” Sacre said. “He was a great guy, and I love the dude and I loved his enthusiasm at every game. It is hard to hear that he passed away because he was such a great individual.”

Layman spent his free time volunteering at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Bishop’s Storehouse of Spokane, where he helped organize food for those in need. He also spent his summers in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where he worked at Casa Mesita, a local charity thrift store.

Another former Zag, Rem Bakamus, retweeted Sacre and said it was a sad day for Zag Nation.

“He always brought the energy to the Kennel,” he tweeted.

The Zags’ women’s head coach, Lisa Fortier, also commented on Bakamus’ tweet.

“So sad,” she tweeted. “He was there every game.”

He graduated from Mead High School in 2007, and his impact was felt on the sidelines of Panther basketball games as well. His energy woke the crowd as he always tried to keep the student section active. He also would help dust the floors during halftime .

On Zags game days, Layman would get up at 4 a.m., then get into his Bulldogs gear two or three hours before tipoff. It was a routine that never fluctuated for 15 years.

“He is the representation of a great Zags fan. He brought enthusiasm, character, everything you want to have as a Zags fan,” Sacre said. “I am just proud that he is a part of this program and this community.”

A funeral service is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. COVID-19 restrictions prevent an open funeral, but it will be livestreamed at christian.juliaandalex.com

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