By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4)– As the Denver Nuggets power through the playoffs after arguably their best regular season ever, one fan says she has waited nearly three decades for the Nuggets to be this successful. Vicki Ray, once recognized by the team as their ultimate fan, has only missed three games in the last 27 years of play.

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Each game, Ray stands outside the locked Pepsi Center doors until game time arrives.

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“I’m here early every game,” Ray told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

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Ray says she is usually first in the arena for every game, even during the preseason.

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“I’m Vicki Ray. Number one Nuggets fan,” Ray said.

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Ray said she was thrilled to see how successful the team was doing this season, especially after the team only won 11 games several years ago. Through thick and thin, Ray sits in her same seat at the corner of the player’s tunnel.

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Each player stops and talks with her, she often gives them bags filled with their favorite candies. She said some call her “Momma,” and others still keep in contact with her even though they no longer play for the team.

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While many Nuggets fans know Vicki for her regular seating and the signs she holds, many never realize the depth of her admiration for the team.

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Ray invited CBS4 in to her home, hoping to show the Nuggets are truly part of her everyday life. When you open her front door, and walk in, the front room is covered entirely by Denver Nuggets memorabilia.

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“(Usually visitors) say, ‘Holy hell, this is a Nuggets museum.’”

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Shelves line each wall throughout her home from floor to ceiling. The shelves are filled with random Nuggets themed items. There are Nuggets Christmas ornaments, Nuggets toys, Nuggets jerseys and much more.

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“Just a little bit of everybody, stuck wherever I can find a place to stick it,” Ray said.

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Ray said the Pepsi Center gives her many of their leftover decorations after the season ends. Most of them are signed by players. She also has a wall filled with 76 pairs of game-worn shoes, and several individual shoes.

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Vicki’s bathroom is covered with Nuggets memorabilia. Her floor mat has the team logo, and the bottles of lotion and soap have the team logo as well.

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“I even have a nuggets toaster, and it puts the logo on the bread,” Ray said. “Somebody said, ‘You are like a 13-year-old kid who just won the lottery.”

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Though Vicki loves to call the team her family, she owes her connection to basketball to her late husband.

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Her husband, Russell, first invited her to a game 27 seasons ago.

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“I said, ‘I don’t want to go to no damn basketball game.’ But, I went,” Ray said. “We were so into the Nuggets. That was our life. So, it is really important to me. I’ve been waiting for 27 years to see them really play good.”

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Ray said this season is the first time she has seen the team succeed as a unit, and not due to selfish star power. She said this team would make her husband proud.

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Each game, with Nuggets shoes on her feet, Ray wears a photo of her husband on a necklace. She said she senses his presence each time she goes to Pepsi Center.

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Though the seat next to her is empty, she said she knows he is there rooting the team on to victory.

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“I wish he was here to see this,” Ray said. “He would say, ‘I told you they could do it.’”

(credit: Vicki Ray)

Dillon Thomas

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