Eric Montross, former UNC star and NBA player, dies of cancer at 52

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Eric Montross, a former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NBA big man, has died of cancer, his family said. He was 52.

The school released the family’s announcement Monday morning, saying Montross died Sunday surrounded by loved ones at his Chapel Hill home. He had been diagnosed with cancer in March, leading to him stepping away from his duties as a radio analyst for UNC game broadcasts.

“To know Eric was to be his friend, and the family knows that the ripples from the generous, thoughtful way that he lived his life will continue in the lives of the many people he touched with his deep and sincere kindness,” the announcement said.

Montross played for the Tar Heels under Dean Smith from 1990-94 and was a two-time Associated Press second-team All-American. He started on Smith’s second NCAA championship team in 1993 before being the No. 9 overall pick by the Boston Celtics a year later and playing in the NBA until 2002.

In addition to his broadcast duties, he worked as senior major gifts director at the Rams Club, the fundraising arm of UNC’s athletics department. He was also known for charitable efforts, such as helping launch a father-child basketball camp for Father’s Day weekend to support the UNC Children’s Hospital.

“Eric was a great player and accomplished student, but the impacts he made on our community went way beyond the basketball court,” the school said in its own statement. “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 family announced Montross’ illness when he was diagnosed, but didn’t specify the nature of the cancer.