It's been reported that Mark Eaton, former Utah Jazz center, has died at 64. "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 team said in a public statement.
They added, "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."
What is Mark Eaton's cause of death?
Mark Eaton was found lying on the road, unconscious, at around 8:30 p.m. on March 28, 2021. As of now, it looks like he crashed his bike on Long Rifle Road in Summit County, Utah. Mark was taken to the hospital, where he died of sustained injuries. There doesn't seem to be another vehicle involved. The Summit County Sheriff's Office state that, unfortunately, they don't have any witnesses to the crash, so they don't know exactly what happened.
The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner is currently determining the official cause of death.
"The Summit County Sheriff's Office offers our sincere condolences to the Eaton family, the Utah Jazz family, and friends of Mark. The family has requested privacy while they mourn his untimely death," the sheriff's office said.
Many have taken to Twitter to express their condolences. "Mark Eaton ... My protector, my mentor, my friend, my brother. I’m devastated you’ve left us too soon. Thank you for what you left with me," sports analyst Thurl Bailey wrote.
A friend wrote, "Rest In Peace Mark Eaton. I took this picture yesterday afternoon at a food truck in Park City. We had a conversation about basketball and biking. Was shocked to hear of his passing today."
"Mark Eaton, my sister, and I posing for an ad, circa 1985. I showed this to him a couple years back and he laughed with me for a few minutes. Tremendously good dude," a fan shared. Mark Eaton was known for his height (he was 7-foot-4).
"Mark Eaton was one heck of a nice guy. A mountain of a man. Rest, Mark," Rex Chapman tweeted, sharing a video clip.
Mark had an unconventional career, as he went from being an auto mechanic to one of the most iconic basketball players in recent history. Mark, who was born in Inglewood, Calif., ended up going to the Arizona Automotive Institute in Phoenix after high school. He was working at a tire store near Anaheim when Tom Lubin, the assistant basketball coach at Cypress College, discovered him. With that height, everyone assumed Mark had to play basketball.
While Mark was reluctant to join the team, he eventually caved. Per KSL.com, Mark told Sports Illustrated, "Tom convinced me that my height, which I had considered to be my biggest liability, could be my greatest strength." After his freshman year in college, he was inevitably drafted by the Phoenix Suns, but then went back to college basketball. He played for the UCLA Bruins for a bit, and then landed in Utah to play for the Utah Jazz.
Mark retired from basketball in 1994 after a degenerative back ailment made it so he couldn't play the same way. He'd already had knee surgery and back problems in the years leading up to his retirement, so it seemed like time. But he kept busy. Mark provided commentary for Utah Jazz, became a partner in the Salt Lake City area restaurant group named Tuscany, served as a chairman of the Mark Eaton Standing Tall for Youth organization, and was also a motivational speaker.
He will be missed.