Thursday, July 25, 2024

Tony Brown, longtime NBA referee, dies at 55 from pancreatic cancer

NBA referee Tony Brown, who officiated over 1,100 games during his 20-year career, died on Thursday due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 55.

“Tony Brown was one of the most accomplished referees in the NBA and an inspiration to his colleagues,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “After his pancreatic cancer diagnosis early last year, Tony fought courageously through countless rounds of treatment to return to work this past season at the NBA Replay Center, demonstrating the dedication, determination and passion that made him such a highly respected official for 20 years.

“The entire NBA family mourns Tony’s passing and we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Tina; their children, Bailey, Basile and Baylen; and his fellow referees.”

Brown entered hospice care in Atlanta during his final days, according to his family. He was initially diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer back in April 2021, but was able to return to work at the league’s replay center during the 2021-22 season.

“We are and have been sustained by the consistent outpouring of love and support through this journey in developing strength, acceptance and peace,” Brown’s family said in a statement. “We ask that you join us in that spirit as we prepare to celebrate Tony’s life. Our biggest thank you to our village of family and friends, near and far, old and new. Your love is immeasurable.”

Lakers star LeBron James shared a post on Twitter after hearing the news of Brown’s death.

Brown had a remarkable career that saw him officiate the 2018 and 2021 NBA All-Star Games in addition to a game of the 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. He also officiated conference final games in both the CBA and WNBA in addition to the WNBA All-Star Game before moving over to becoming a full-time NBA referee in 2003.

He was also an accomplished basketball player in his day, as he accepted a scholarship to Florida A&M. Eventually, he decided to transfer to Clark College, which is now called Clark Atlanta University, even though there was no scholarship available to him at the school.

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