Nick Gilbert — Son of Cleveland Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert — Died at Age 26

Kelly Corbett - Author

May 8 2023, Published 11:19 a.m. ET

All fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers have likely heard of the late Nick Gilbert. Nick was the son of the team’s owner Dan Gilbert, who also serves as the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans.

Nick became the team’s good luck charm at the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery after he won the first overall pick which the Cavaliers used to select Kyrie Irving.

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Always donning his signature bowtie and thick-rimmed glasses, he continued to represent the Cavaliers at several more lotteries throughout the years. The Cavaliers also had the No. 1 pick in 2013 and 2014.

On May 6, 2023, Nick tragically passed away at age 26. What was his cause of death? Here’s what we know.

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What was Nick Gilbert's cause of death?

Nick passed away from complications from neurofibromatosis type 1.

"After a lifelong, courageous battle with neurofibromatosis (NF1), Nick died peacefully at home surrounded by family," wrote the Ira Kaufman Chapel wrote on its website.

Per the NHS, NF1 "is a genetic condition that causes tumors to grow along your nerves. The tumors are usually non-cancerous (benign) but may cause a range of symptoms."

Nick was first diagnosed with NF1 as a toddler. The condition has no cure and, in turn, caused him to struggle with a lot of setbacks. While attending Michigan State University in 2018, he underwent an eight-hour operation on his brain.

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Following his passing, the Cavaliers released a statement that read: "Nick was a light and inspiration to so many throughout his 26 years of life. Whether taking on his signature role as the Cavs’ good luck charm during several NBA Draft Lotteries or using his voice to advocate in the fight against NF, Nick’s unrelenting spirit has been a driving force behind our organization."

During the 2022–2023 season, the Cavaliers wore bowtie emblems on their warmups to honor him and raise awareness for NF1.

Dan and Nick's mom Jen established the NF Forward foundation in 2017 to honor Nick and fund research for NF. You can learn more about the nonprofit here.

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