Sports

College Basketball Legend Eric Montross Tragically Loses Battle With Cancer

Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Font Size:

The college basketball world is in mourning as former University of North Carolina basketball star Eric Montross tragically passed away following a nine month battle with cancer, the Tar Heels announced Monday morning on Twitter.

The 52-year-old Montross was a staple of the Tar Heels program in the early 90s helping propel the team to winning the NCAA championship in 1993. 

Nicknamed “Big Grits,” the seven-footer captivated college audiences with his military-style haircut and his unique jersey number, “00.” 

Montross was a first round pick in the 1994 NBA draft, as the Boston Celtics selected him 9th overall. He spent nine seasons in the NBA with the Celtics, Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors. (RELATED: NBA Legend Walter Davis Dies At 69)

He had most recently served as an analyst on the Tar Heel Sports Network for 18 years before stepping away following his March 2023 cancer diagnosis. 

Eric was a great player and accomplished student, but the impacts he made on our community went way beyond the basketball court,” a statement from the school’s athletic department noted. “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 said. 

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my good friend and Tar Heel legend Eric Montross,” UNC’s Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said. “He was an incredible friend, a passionate leader and an inspiring advocate for our campus. His impact extended well beyond the court with his tireless support of the UNC Children’s Hospital and his annual Father’s Day basketball camp. We have lost a great Tar Heel, and Eric will be truly missed. Please keep Laura, Sarah, Andrew and Megan in your thoughts and prayers.”