Bill Walton, a former NBA player and free-spirited individual, passes away at the age of 71.

Bill Walton, NBA Hall of Famer and broadcasting star, in New York in March 2011. Walton died on Monday at his home in San Diego at the age of 71.

The NBA announced on Monday that Bill Walton, a former NBA champion and Hall of Fame basketball player, passed away at the age of 71. Despite his career being plagued by injuries, he went on to have a successful second career as a carefree broadcaster who shared philosophical insights on air.
The NBA announced that Walton passed away with his family by his side after a long fight with cancer.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver described Bill Walton as genuinely unique, acknowledging his achievements on the basketball court and his entertaining and thoughtful commentary as a broadcaster. However, what will stick with me the most about him is his enthusiasm for life.
Walton, a tall center at 211 centimeters who displayed elegance even with his height, gained fame in college as a member of the successful University of California, Los Angeles team led by Coach John Wooden, achieving NCAA titles in 1972 and 1973.
Walton, chosen as the top pick in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, quickly made a name for himself in his early career, guiding Portland to victory in the 1976-77 season and earning the title of Most Valuable Player the next year.
However, due to fragile bones in his feet, Walton was absent for three out of the following four seasons, primarily playing for the San Diego Clippers. He later returned as a reserve player for the Boston Celtics, contributing to their NBA championship victory in 1985-86.

NBC basketball announcers Bill Walton (left) and Marv Albert pose before the start of an NBA game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in June 2002.
NBC basketball announcers Bill Walton (left) and Marv Albert pose before the start of an NBA game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in June 2002.

After retiring from the NBA, Walton pursued a career in sports broadcasting and also dedicated his time to various charitable organizations, clinics, and camps. He worked in both roles as a studio analyst and a color commentator.
Several injuries, such as those from a bike crash, persisted post-retirement, halting his career as a playful commentator known for blending critiques of referees with musings on the mind.
He was recognized for his strong devotion to the Grateful Dead, frequently traveling with the band in a tie-dye T-shirt popular among their fans.
Walton experienced numerous injuries in his lifetime, leading to a total of 38 orthopedic surgeries, as reported in an interview with the Advanced Medical Technology Association.
In his autobiography “Back from the Dead,” published in 2016, Walton starts by recounting the summer of 2009, during which he was in immense pain from his injuries and had to reside on the floor of his San Diego home for the majority of the previous 2½ years. His statement was, “I would utilize a gun if I possessed one.”
However, with the passage of time and influence from a variety of thinkers such as Coach Wooden, George Bernard Shaw, and the Grateful Dead, Walton was able to recover from spine surgery and continue his broadcasting career, he stated.
During his time at UCLA, Walton set numerous school records and is currently the all-time leader in career rebounds at the school, as well as being ranked in the top 10 in several statistical areas in program history.
UCLA men’s head basketball coach Mick Cronin expressed the difficulty in expressing the impact he has had on UCLA’s program and college basketball.

Apart from his impressive achievements on the field, what truly defines his larger than life personality are his constant energy, passion for the game, and always speaking the truth.