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Jeffrey Gamblero, Nets neon superfan, is dead

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Gamblero, who became famous as the Nets neon superfan then was unceremoniously tossed out of the Garden earlier this month, died Sunday.  He leapt from a window in his father's Queens home Saturday night.  He was 38.

The news was announced by his fiancee, Kristi Evans, in a tweet...

The New York Times and ESPN first reported the events of Saturday night. Andrew Keh wrote...

Jeffrey Vanchiro, who had gained widespread attention as a colorful and outspoken fan of the Nets, was on a ventilator late Sunday afternoon and was not expected to survive after falling from a second-story window in Flushing, Queens, late on Saturday night.

Vanchiro was staying at his father’s house Saturday night. Vanchiro’s fiancée, Kristi Evans, who was with Vanchiro’s family at New York Hospital Queens on Sunday, said that Vanchiro’s father told her that Vanchiro awoke apparently disoriented and leapt from the building. Evans said that Vanchiro sustained severe brain damage and a fractured spinal cord in the fall, and that his brain had stopped functioning Sunday morning.

ESPN quotes Evans on his last minutes...

"He's never, ever exhibited any suicidal tendencies," Evans said. "He jumped out of the bed, ran down the hallway ... and then threw himself out of a window headfirst and landed on his head."

Gamblero, whose real name was Jeffrey Vanchiro, gained notoriety even a New York Times profile, for dancing in the aisles at Barclays Center dressed in neon colors, winning the hearts of his fellow Nets fans... and the Nets organization as well.  Brett Yormark invited him to London last season.  He met Mikhail Prokhorov, had breakfast with the team.

Then, on December 2, after he tried the dancing and cheering for his Nets at Madison Square Garden, Gamblero was tossed out. Although reports differ on the details, Gamblero was carried out by Garden security, missing his prosthetic leg, at one point being dropped on the steps.  He was traumatized by the series of events, said those who spoke to him in the aftermath.

A few days later, he told Mike Mazzeo that he expected it would take him some time to recover.

"I'm Jeffrey Vanchiro right now," he told Mazzeo. "I'm looking for Jeffrey Gamblero. If you find him, let me know. ... I'm alive. I'm not my normal self, but I'm working towards getting back to that. I have a lot of recovery to do: physically, mentally, emotionally."

Gamblero returned to dancing during Friday's game vs. the 76ers and posted images on his Instagram account. He was interviewed by OurBKSocial, a Brooklyn website. In his last tweet, he responded to a fan who hoped he would be on hand to provide energy at the Sixer game.

Gamblero's fiancee said the events at the Garden had changed him.  The Times' Andrew Keh quotes her this way...

"After that, he was a completely different person," Evans said. "He was paranoid. He was erratic. He was frightened. He was horrified. He was a bit delusional. He was having a lot of trouble sleeping. He couldn’t sleep at all. When he would sleep, or try to sleep, it would only take about 10 or 15 minutes before he would jump up screaming covered in sweat."

Bobby Edemeka of Brooklyn Brigade, who shared in his enthusiasm, issued a statement Sunday evening...

"Like so many others who knew Jeff from Nets games, I'm shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic news. Jeff's enthusiasm and upbeat attitude was truly irresistible and you didn't have to be around him for very long to pick up on that. I'll always remember and appreciate the genuine warmth that Jeff showed to me, my brothers and sisters, and the Brooklyn Brigade whenever he saw us. I know we will all miss him and his positive energy.

"I know we will all miss him and his positive energy and our heartfelt condolences go out to Jeff's family for their loss."

A successful poker player and notorious graffiti artist in previous lives, Gamblero, a New York native, found his calling as a Nets fan, supported by fellow fans and the organization. Put most simply, Jeffrey Gamblero loved being a Nets fan.

Rest in Peace, Jeff. Condolences to Kristi, his parents, his family and friends.