Former NBA Big Man Eric Montross Has Died From Cancer at Just 52 Years Old


Dec. 19 2023, Published 9:40 a.m. ET

Eric Montross during a game for the Boston Celtics.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Former UNC star and NBA player Eric Montross died on Dec. 17, 2023, at just 52 after being diagnosed with cancer in March 2023.
  • The exact type of cancer Eric had wasn't disclosed publicly, but it seems to have been fairly aggressive given the timeline.
  • Eric was remembered as a good man and a fierce competitor by both UNC and his family.
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During his four years at the University of North Carolina, Eric Montross became something of an icon for the school. He was named a second-team All-American player twice. Following his time at UNC, Eric went on to play in the NBA for almost a decade before retiring in 2003, although he continued to work in and around the sports world.

Now, 20 years after his retirement, the news has broken that Eric is dead at just 52 years old. Following the news of his death, many wanted to learn more about who Eric was as an athlete and also what his cause of death was.

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Eric Montross speaking to reporters in a North Carolina uniform.
Source: Getty Images

What was Eric Montross's cause of death?

The news of Eric's death was first announced on Dec. 18, 2023, in a statement released by UNC. The statement explained that Eric had been diagnosed with cancer in March 2023 and he died on Dec. 17.

"His family is grateful for the tremendous support and the truly overwhelming love expressed by so many people as he battled with his signature determination and grace," the statement read.

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"To know Eric was to be his friend, and the family knows that the ripples from the generous, thoughtful way that he lived his life will continue in the lives of the many people he touched with his deep and sincere kindness. The family asks for privacy during this difficult period," the statement continued.

Eric is survived by his wife, Laura, and their three children, Sarah, Andrew, and Megan.

What kind of cancer did Eric Montross have?

Although the UNC statement acknowledged that Eric had died from cancer, some wanted to better understand what form of cancer he was diagnosed with. The information has never been publicly disclosed, so it's impossible to say for sure. While the fairly rapid timeline suggests that it was a particularly aggressive cancer, depending on how advanced it was when it was first detected, that could still mean that it was one of many different kinds.

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Eric is remembered as a fierce competitor.

After playing at UNC, Eric played professionally for several different teams, including the Boston Celtics, the New Jersey Nets, the Detroit Pistons, and the Philadelphia 76ers. He retired in August 2003 after suffering a foot injury.

"Eric was a great player and accomplished student, but the impacts he made on our community went way beyond the basketball court," UNC said in its statement following the news of his death.

"He was a man of faith, a tremendous father, husband and son, and one of the most recognizable ambassadors of the University and Chapel Hill," the statement continued. Fans and former teammates also paid tribute following the news.

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