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Former Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton dead at age 64

Andrew Cuomo

Former Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton has died, the team confirmed in a statement on Saturday. He was 64.

Eaton was found unconscious near his home in Summit County, Utah, after being involved in what appeared to be a bicycle crash on Friday, according to Summit County Sheriff’s Office. Eaton was transported to a nearby hospital where he died.

“The Utah Jazz are profoundly saddened at the unexpected passing of Mark Eaton, who was an enduring figure in our franchise history and had a significant impact in the community after his basketball career,” the Utah Jazz said in a statement.”

“His presence continued around the organization as a friend and ambassador while giving back as a businessman and volunteer to his adopted hometown in Utah. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Teri and their extended family. Mark will be greatly missed by all of us with the Jazz.”

According to the NBA, the 7-foot-4-inch Eaton was working in Arizona as an auto mechanic when a community college basketball coach noticed him in 1977. The coach convinced Eaton to enroll at Cypress College and he later transferred to UCLA to play under legendary coach John Wooden.

The Jazz drafted Eaton in 1982 in the fourth round of the NBA Draft. He played 11 seasons at center with the Jazz and became a defensive standout.

Eaton was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and has the fourth-most blocks in league history during his career in Utah, among a bevy of defensive accolades.

He still holds the record for most blocked shots in a season, amassing 456 blocks during the 1984-85 season.

The Jazz retired his number 53 during the 1995-96 season.

“The NBA mourns the passing of Mark Eaton, a Utah Jazz legend and former president of the Retired Players Association,” the NBA said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Mark was an All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and beloved member of our league. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and many friends.”

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