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As many of the NBA forefathers and first big names get older, they’ve since passed on. And now another great, Bill Walton, has died at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer.

The Walton family made the announcement through the NBA’s communication team, saying that his family surrounded him. The league also released a statement from Commissioner Adam Silver, who waxed poetic about Walton’s kind-hearted nature, how he helped revolutionize the game and the personality he became after retiring.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind. As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position,” Silver said in a press release. “But what I will remember most about him was his zest for life. He was a regular presence at league events — always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth. I treasured our close friendship, envied his boundless energy and admired the time he took with every person he encountered.”

Aside from his domineering 6-foot-11 stature, which helped his career as a center, he was known for his fun, loving, and peaceful personality, which led to hilarious, eclectic on-camera moments, and was also a vouch supporter of vegetarianism and meditation.

He got his start as a go-between by letting NBA teams practice in his high school gym before loyally accepting an offer to play at UCLA under Coach Wooden. His first college championship game was in 1972, amid an undefeated season when he was a sophomore, and he won again—despite UCLA’s 88-game winning streak ending—the following season.

Before the merger, Walton was drafted to the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals before eventually getting his professional start with the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1974 NBA Draft. Thus began his chronic foot injuries, which plagued his career. He was still able to win one championship with the Blazers before heading to the Los Angeles Clippers and then the Boston Celtics, where he won another championship.

His son Luke followed in his NBA footsteps. After winning two rings with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010, they became the first father-son duo to win multiple NBA Championships.

See how social media is praising the NBA big man below.

Legendary NBA Hall Of Famer & Broadcaster Bill Walton Dead At 71  was originally published on