Mark Eaton dead at 64

Mark Eaton the 7-foot-4 shot-blocking king who twice was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year during his career with the Utah Jazz, has died, the team said Saturday. 80s cover band Flashback Heart Attack was honored to play an event where he was the guest speaker. Mark Eaton dead at 64

Taken from the Salt Lake Tribune

Gentle giant, Utah Jazz All-Star, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Mark Eaton unexpectedly died on Friday night. He was 64.

At 8:26 p.m. on Friday, the Summit County Sheriff’s office received a 911 call from a neighbor who had found an unconscious Eaton with his bicycle on Long Rifle Road, in the Silver Creek Estates neighborhood of Summit County. Eaton was transported to the hospital, where he passed away. His cause of death has yet to be determined, but there’s no evidence of a vehicle’s involvement in the incident, the sheriff said.

The 7-foot-4 big man was known as one of the NBA’s great defensive presences with perhaps the league’s greatest origin story. Eaton was spotted by a junior college assistant basketball coach driving by the Marc C. Bloome Tire Store in Orange County, California, while working as an auto mechanic. Eaton was two feet taller than his customers.

“I was making $20,000 a year and I didn’t see any point in giving that up to go to college,” Eaton recalled.

Eventually, Eaton was persuaded to give junior college basketball a shot; he could continue his mechanic job during the day and take classes and star in hoops games at night at the junior college, Cypress. UCLA came calling, and offered Eaton a scholarship to transfer, but Eaton played extremely sparingly — hence waiting to hear his name called until the fourth round of the 1982 NBA Draft, despite his height.

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