Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton Dies at 71

( – Bill Walton grew up in La Mesa, California, and attended UCLA in the ‘70. In addition to studying, he spent his college years on the basketball court, attracting attention from the NBA. In 1974, the Portland Trail Blazers chose Walton as their number one draft pick, starting a career in sports that spanned the rest of his life. Recently, NBA Communications shared a sad announcement.

On May 27, the organization posted a statement on social media explaining that the two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer died at the age of 71 after a long battle with cancer. The notice said he was surrounded by his family when he passed.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also issued a statement when he heard the news. He called the athlete “truly one of a kind.” Silver detailed Walton’s unique talents on the court that led to his basketball achievements. Those included two NBA championships, becoming a regular season and finals MVP, and earning a spot on multiple NBA anniversary teams.

Although the former champ retired from playing ball during the 1987/1988 season, that wasn’t the end of his relationship with basketball. Walton went on to “entertain generations of basketball fans” through broadcasting — he was a fan favorite.

Silver said he was “always upbeat,” “smiling,” and ready to enthusiastically “share his wisdom” and “colorful commentary,” which was warm and “insightful.” Through his contributions both on the court and off, Walton stayed with the sport for 50 years. Silver said Walton “will be deeply missed.”

One of his interests outside of basketball was his love for the Grateful Dead. Walton reportedly attended 849 of the group’s concerts in his lifetime and wore a Grateful Dead shirt while throwing out a ceremonial pitch at the Padres game in 2019.

Walton was married to a woman named Lori and they had four sons together — all of whom followed their father’s footsteps and played basketball.

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