Friends, family mourn sudden death of Lakewood High School senior

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Friends and family of a Lakewood basketball star are mourning her sudden and unexpected death.

Mackenzie Forrest, 17, died in a single-car accident on eastbound Interstate 70 near Frisco about 3:25 a.m. Sunday.

The Colorado State Patrol said she drove her SUV up an embankment, then back to the highway, rolling it twice before she was ejected.

“I’ve never witnessed the school so quiet,” said a friend of Mackenzie, or "Little Mac" as most people called her.

They started showing up outside Lakewood High School on Sunday night and kept coming Monday.

Classmates, friends, even competitors said goodbye to the popular senior.

"The basketball community is really close, even though we are rivals. But like we all know each other and come together at the end,” said friend and basketball rival Jaz’Myne Snipes.

Snipes drove to Lakewood from Highlands Ranch with a group of ThunderRidge High School basketball players to pay their respects. ThunderRidge beat Lakewood on March 4 in the Class 5A Great Eight before eventually winning the state title Saturday.

“I had just seen her hours before taking that picture. She was congratulating me,” Snipes said of a photo they snapped at the championship game in Boulder.

The two had competed against each other for years and the two were going to join forces in the fall at Regis University.

"She thought I was really good. I thought she was really good. And I was like, 'Oh, my god, I’m going to be on the same team as Mac,” Snipes said.

Forrest was Lakewood’s all-time leading scorer, the team captain and a friend to many.

“It was that competitiveness that she had that really I believe made me a better person, made me strive to be better, to smile every day. I’m going to miss her so much,” friend Chris Reynoso said.

He said he can’t forget her love of Stephen Curry, Red Bull, and wearing her visor backward and upside down.

Reynoso also said Forrest was so bright, energetic and a talented athlete who despite her size was a giant in the game. He said her death is a reminder of how fragile life can be.

“You’ve got to tell your loved ones every day. Never take anything for granted,” Reynoso said.

Forrest's family said, in part, in a statement: “We are devastated that she is gone. ... Now Mackenzie’s legacy will instead live on through those who knew her and those who may benefit from her selfless decision to be an organ donor."

The Colorado State Patrol is investigating whether alcohol played a part in the crash. Troopers said Forrest was not wearing a seat belt -- and that might have saved her life.

Details of her memorial are still pending.

A memorial for Lakewood High School student and basketball player Mackenzie Forrest was set up outside the school after the 17-year-old died in a car crash on Sunday, March 13, 2016.

A memorial for Lakewood High School student and basketball player Mackenzie Forrest was set up outside the school after the 17-year-old died in a car crash on Sunday, March 13, 2016.

“L’l Mac was extremely special to all of us in our program," Lakewood girls basketball coach Chris Poisson said. "Her accomplishments on the court speak for themselves. However, it was her heart, passion and love that made her special. She will always be in our hearts. I will always love L’l Mac.”

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