'Everyone's best friend'

Shannon Litz / Nevada Appeal

Shannon Litz / Nevada Appeal

Desiree Bragg was a daymaker - the kind of person who made everyone's day better.

"She was everyone's best friend," said her aunt Laura Wilson, only six years Bragg's senior. "She had a way of making you feel like the most important person in the world."

Bragg, 19, a 2011 Carson High School graduate, died from her injuries Jan. 30 at a Reno hospital, four days after a 28-year-old Carson City man allegedly pinned her against the side of her mother's house with his car in an apparent road-rage incident. Leonardo Cardoza had allegedly tailgated Bragg and her fiance for 2 miles on Highway 50; he faces a murder charge and has a hearing set for March 22.

Bragg's family described her as a free - and loud - spirit who matured into a young woman before and after the birth of her 5-month-old son.

"A year and a half ago, I was still calling her a kid and now we're calling her a young woman, and she was. She was a young woman," Wilson said.

Bragg graduated from the Paul Mitchell beauty school in Reno in 2012. When she found out she was pregnant, she went from going to school part time, working a job on the side, to being in school full time so she could finish her degree. The majority of the school did not know she was pregnant, said her mother, Wrenetta Nadon.

Wilson and Bragg had a special relationship, partly fostered by their proximity in age. The pair got near-matching tattoos based on their childhood saying "I love you more than . . ." They would try to outdo each other when it came to who loved the other more.

It was Bragg's idea to get diamond tattoos, Wilson said.

"She decided her tattoo was uneven and I went first and I have five diamonds, so she got six diamonds. So I only loved her more than five diamonds and she loved me more than six," Wilson said.

As a child, Bragg's favorite part about going to her grandparents' place wasn't the gardening or her family, but that she could be naked in the backyard.

"She rolled around in the mud. She belonged at Comstock," Nadon said. "For some weird reason, I come from a very conservative background, and those conservative rules did not apply to her."

"She was expressionate. She needed to express herself," Wilson added.

Bragg's outgoing and sunny personality had children following her home after middle school like a pack of puppies, Nadon said.

"She was the leader of the pack. People would just follow her home," she said.

Nadon had a rule: She would not learn the name of one of Bragg's friends until that person had visited at least 10 times. Bragg's friends knew no boundaries; they lived in Kings Canyon and in Woodside.

"The girl just crossed all boundaries," Nadon said. "It didn't matter. She saw people for the inside, and that's what she loved."


A celebration of life ceremony is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Capital Christian Center, 1600 Snyder Ave. It is open to the public. The burial service will be directly afterward at the Lone Mountain Cemetery.


An account has been set up to help Desiree Bragg's family with her medical expenses, her funeral costs and the raising of her son. Donations can be made at any Greater Nevada Credit Union, with the account number 926595 and the routing number 321280143.

Donations of size 3 or 4 diapers and Similac Sensitive baby formula can be brought to Dr. Sonderegger's office at 1000 N. Division St., Suite 104.

A fundraiser is set for 9 a.m.-3 p.m. March 4 to benefit Bragg's family and her son. Stylists will cut and style hair for a suggested minimum donation of $10 per styling at the Paul Mitchell school, 1600 Holcomb Ave., Reno. Fundraiser organizers are looking for more stylists to help fill the event's 50 chairs. Shampoo and other hair products will be provided. For appointments or information about how to participate, call 775-284-2901.


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