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Late UNC Basketball Star Eric Montross, Aged 52, Succumbs to Cancer After a Brave Struggle


Late UNC Basketball Star Eric Montross, Aged 52, Succumbs to Cancer After a Brave Struggle

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Honoring the Legacy of a Tar Heels Icon – Eric Montross, On and Off the Basketball Court

The basketball community is grieving the departure of Eric Montross, the former Tar Heels standout and NBA center, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 52, following a courageous battle against cancer.

Eric Montross, renowned for his contributions both within and outside the basketball arena, played a fundamental role under Dean Smith from 1990-94, earning the distinction of a two-time Associated Press second-team All-American. He was a starter in Smith’s NCAA championship team in 1993, demonstrating his talents and sportsmanship. Montross was subsequently drafted as the No. 9 overall selection by the Boston Celtics and enjoyed a successful NBA career that spanned until 2002.

Beyond his athletic accomplishments, Montross embraced a multifaceted role in the UNC community. By serving as a radio analyst for UNC game broadcasts, he shared his passion for the game with fans. Additionally, he held the position of senior major gifts director at the Rams Club, contributing to the fundraising endeavors of UNC’s athletics department.

Montross, diagnosed with cancer in March, gracefully relinquished his broadcasting responsibilities to prioritize his well-being. His impact extended far beyond the basketball court, as he exemplified genuine kindness and generosity throughout his lifetime. He actively participated in charitable initiatives, notably playing a key role in launching a father-child basketball camp to support the UNC Children’s Hospital.

The UNC community expresses deep sadness at the loss of a man revered for his faith, family values, and commitment to the University and Chapel Hill. Tributes from former teammates, colleagues, and sports personalities underscore Montross’ exceptional character, both as an athlete and as an individual.

Derrick Phelps, a former teammate, expressed his sorrow on social media, stating, “This news really hurts! RIP Big Fella! Love you my center!!” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas remembered Montross as “the nicest, kindest person one could ever know,” highlighting his championship spirit, friendships, and contributions to the sport.

Dick Vitale, another ESPN analyst, reflected on Montross’ impact, saying, “More than just a basketball star, Eric was a fantastic person.” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper acknowledged Montross’ significant contributions, expressing sadness at the loss of someone who “made a big difference in this world.”

The Montross family’s announcement noted Eric’s profound legacy and the ripple effect of his kindness in the lives he touched. The University of North Carolina and the basketball community collectively extend heartfelt condolences to the Montross family during this difficult time.

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