Basketball Legend, Broadcaster Bill Walton Passes Away At 71

Sportscaster and former NBA player Bill Walton poses before broadcasting a first-round game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament between the Oregon State Beavers and the Arizona State Sun Devils at T-Mobile Arena on March 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
4:15 PM – Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Bill Walton, 71, passed away from colon cancer on Monday at his home, leaving the basketball world heartbroken.


Even though he previously moved away and spent most of his NBA career playing ball in Los Angeles, he never missed an opportunity to honor his birthplace of San Diego.

With a demeanor that matched the city’s sunshine, the Hall of Famer served as an unofficial representative for the Southern California city long after his playing career ended.

Walton’s eccentric broadcasting manner was well-known to many sports fans, but in San Diego, locals knew him as the famous “tall guy who liked to ride his bike around town.”

“I love my bike, I love San Diego, and I love solar power,” said Walton at a number of appearances at various events for different causes.

John Wooden guided him to two NCAA titles at UCLA before he went on to win titles with Portland and Boston in the NBA. He was also later named league MVP in the 1977–78 season. Walton spent some time playing with the Clippers in Los Angeles and San Diego for four seasons.

Walton had a career that earned him titles with the Trail Blazers and Boston, but he was selected first overall by Portland in 1974. Walton later left the NBA to pursue a career in broadcasting, and the American Sportscasters Association listed him among the greatest 50 sportscasters of all time in 2009.

On Monday, posts on social media were flooded with stories from people who had seen Walton at events, concerts, or airports and had exchanged pleasantries, autographs, and occasionally lengthy (but memorable) chats.

Even as he started to show signs of aging, the foot and back problems that dogged his NBA career did not slow him down in his later years. In addition to riding his bike, Walton would occasionally attend local concerts and basketball games using a special high-backed chair.

He was so excited to learn that the 2016 Amgen Tour of California would begin in his home town that he cycled from his residence near Balboa Park to the news conference on the harbor on his custom bike, which had a notable Grateful Dead paint job.

Walton riding his bike is also depicted in a life-size bronze sculpture at Ski Beach Park in Mission Bay in San Diego.

“He is survived by his wife Lori and sons Adam, Chris, Nate and Luke, who played 10 seasons in the NBA,” NBC San Diego reported.

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