Tuesday, April 2, 2013

NBA Referee Greg Willard Dead at 54

NBA referee Greg Willard has died nearly 10 months after first being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Greg Willard passed away April 1, 2013.
An official since 1988 who wore the uniform number 57, Willard officiated 1,515 regular season and 134 playoff games, including three NBA Finals after stints with the Continental Basketball Association and college basketball's PCAA (now Big West) and Pac-10 (now Pac-12) conferences. Willard also was affiliated with the Orange County Football Officials Association and attended both Orange Coast College and Long Beach State.

Willard officiated his final NBA contest in October, a pre-season affair between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers, played in Anaheim, close to Willard's home town of Huntington Beach. He received the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's Spirit of Hope Award later that month.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States with a poor prognosis. Exocrine pancreatic cancer is associated with a one-year survival rate of just 25%, decreasing to 6% after five years. The median survival is about 10 months.

In honor of PCAN and Willard, NBA regional rights-holders such as FOX Sports have raised awareness and funds throughout the season for cancer research; NBA officials have worn purple awareness bracelets throughout the 2012-13 NBA season.

A Southern California native and a married father of three, Willard was 54 years old.


Lindsay said...

Wow..so sad. he was not only a great referee, but a great person. He will be sadly missed. Sweendog

Lindsay said...

worked with Greg at The city of Irvine Heritage Park.. great man .. great person.. god bless ...

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