Belinson: Nick Bassett and the power of optimism

Nick Bassett touched the lives of countless Cyclone fans.

Matt Belinson

Nick Bassett, the inspirational Iowa State fan whose story inspired millions, died Thursday at the age of 29.

Bassett, who had both of his legs amputated in May 2021 and battled scoliosis for most of his life, had his story shared across the Iowa State fandom and the college football world this fall.

Inspiration. That’s what comes first to mind for me as I process the news of Bassett’s passing.

I don’t pretend to have known Nick Bassett. I never met him or spoke to him.

I only got to hear his story thanks to the incredible reporting of Tommy Birch and the special features done on him by numerous college football outlets.

But I do know what his story represented. And I know why he touched the lives of thousands — likely millions of people.

He gave us hope. And he never allowed us to look at life with a negative outlook. He gave us a reason to believe in ourselves.

In life, particularly the often-bitter world of sports, we’re always caught up in being right, being first and most of the time being ungrateful.

We complain about imperfect plays, bad outcomes or “unfair” results.

If anyone had a right to complain, it was Nick Bassett. But by all accounts, he never did. He lived every day with a smile and a reason to be positive.

Nick Bassett taught us all the power of optimism — to look at what you have and make it your own. I think back to the feature I wrote on Brock Purdy in anticipation of the 2021 football season and a quote he said because I think it fits Bassett’s life so perfectly.

“At Iowa State, we take what we have, and we make it great.”

Nick Bassett embodied that quote. He lived it every day, and Cyclone nation is better off for being a part of his story.

His story speaks volumes to the true power of optimism — looking life straight in the face and saying, “bring it on.”

If you can’t see the power in that — in Nick’s story — I don’t know where else you’ll find it.

Living life with a glass-half-full mentality is easier said than done. I can speak for myself and say I struggle with that most days. It’s hard. 

Being a college student in a limbo period during a global pandemic is hard — more difficult than people might realize. But there have been days where I’ve turned on Nick’s motivational story, and it’s made me better.

That’s what stories like this do — they show us we can overcome anything.

Nick Bassett’s journey changed lives and will continue to do so for decades to come.

To the person reading this, know that you’re not alone. You can fight, and you will overcome.

All you have to do is read the story of Nick Bassett. He never quit. He never wavered. He kept finding the light in the darkness.

And you can too.

And that’s the most important lesson Nick Bassett taught me— life always has a bright side. Always.