According to a family statement released by North Carolina basketball, former Celtics center Eric Montross died Sunday at the age of 52 after a battle with cancer.

According to the school, the former UNC standout died in Chapel Hill while surrounded by loved ones. In March 2023, he was diagnosed with cancer. Montross leaves behind his wife Laura and three children, Sarah, Andrew, and Megan.

Montross was drafted with the No. 9 overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft after a standout career at UNC under head coach Dean Smith from 1990 to 1994. Montross was selected to the 1995 Rookie All-Star Game and the NBA All-Rookie 2nd team after winning a national championship with UNC in 1993. He had his best NBA season in Boston, averaging 8.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game over two seasons.

A shocking announcement was made: Former Celtics center dies at age 52 after cancer battle this evening
A shocking announcement was made: Former Celtics center dies at age 52 after cancer battle this evening

The Celtics sent Montross and a first-round pick to the Dallas Mavericks in June 1996 in exchange for Antoine Walker in the 1996 NBA Draft and a future first-round pick in 1997. Montross went on to play nine seasons in the NBA with six different teams (Pistons, Raptors, Mavericks, Nets, and 76ers) before retiring at the age of 30 with Toronto after the 2001-02 season.

Montross went on to be a UNC basketball analyst for 18 seasons after his pro career before retiring this season due to a cancer diagnosis.

Following his death, UNC Basketball issued the following statement:

Carolina Athletics, the Tar Heel basketball family, and the entire University community are deeply saddened and stunned by the untimely death of Eric Montross, one of our most beloved former student-athletes. Eric was a fantastic basketball player and an outstanding student, but his contributions to our community extended far beyond the court. He was a man of faith, a wonderful father, husband, and son, and one of the most well-known representatives of the University and Chapel Hill.

“We express our heartfelt condolences to Laura, his children and extended family, as well as his colleagues and friends.” The number of people who loved and were touched by Eric is uncountable.”

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