LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Former high school, college and NBA star Wes Unseld has died. He was 74.
A statement from Unseld’s family said he passed away peacefully surrounded by family Tuesday morning. His family said Unseld had lengthy heath battles and most recently battled pneumonia.
“He was the rock of our family – an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates. He was our hero and loved playing and working around the game of basketball for the cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C. cities he proudly wore on his chest for so many years,” the statement continued.
Unseld was a Louisville native and attended Seneca High School, winning the Kentucky High School Athletic Association state championships in 1963 and 1964.
After playing college basketball at the University of Louisville, Unseld was drafted in the first round by the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA, but signed with the NBA Baltimore Bullets (who later became the Washington Bullets) who drafted him in the second round. He played 13 seasons with the Bullets leading the team to the NBA title in the 1977-78 season. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP in 1969.
Unseld retired following the 1980-81 season, but moved into front office positions with the Bullets. He was the Bullets head coach from 1988 to 1994 and was named general manager in 1996.
In 1988, Unseld was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and later named one of the NBA’s 50 best players of all time. His jerseys at both Louisville and Washington have been retired.
The Unseld family thanked everyone who knew and loved him. They are asking for privacy at this time.