Former NBA center Eric Montross passes away at 52

Former NBA center Eric Montross has passed away after a battle with cancer, his family confirmed. He was 52.

“The family of Eric Montross (Laura, Sarah, Andrew, and Megan) is announcing that he passed away on Sunday, December 17, surrounded by loved ones at his home in Chapel Hill,” the family said in a statement released by North Carolina basketball. “Eric was diagnosed with cancer in March 2023, and his family is grateful for the tremendous support and the truly overwhelming love expressed by so many people as he battled with his signature determination and grace.”

Yahoo Sports reports:

“Montross played for UNC from 1990 to 1994 and became a major figure in Tar Heels history. He was the starting center on legendary coach Dean Smith‘s 1993 NCAA championship team, which beat Michigan’s Fab Five in the title game. That same year, Montross was named first team All-ACC and Final Four all-tournament honors.

“The Boston Celtics drafted Montross ninth overall in 1994, which was the start of his nine-year NBA career. He played for six teams, but spent the most time (nearly four seasons) with the Detroit Pistons. He retired in 2003 due to a foot issue.”

Montross had been serving as a color commentator for Tar Heels basketball broadcasts since 2005.

“Heartbroken. Eric Montross was the nicest, kindest person one could ever know,” Jay Bilas, ESPN college basketball analyst and friend, said on X (formerly known as Twitter). “A great player and champion, husband, father, friend, and a truly wonderful, beautiful soul.”

UNC Athletics in a statement released a statement as well:

“Carolina Athletics, the Tar Heel basketball family and the entire University community are profoundly saddened and stunned by the loss of Eric Montross, one of our most beloved former student-athletes, at far too young an age. Eric was a great player and accomplished student, but the impacts he made on our community went way beyond the basketball court. He was a man of faith, a tremendous father, husband and son, and one of the most recognizable ambassadors of the University and Chapel Hill.”

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