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Eric Montross, a former NCAA college basketball champion and NBA first-round draft pick, has died after a battle with cancer, his family said in a statement through the University of North Carolina on Monday. He was 52.

Montross died on Sunday, about nine months after he was diagnosed with cancer. The family asked for privacy during the difficult time.

“Carolina Athletics, the Tar Heel basketball family and the entire University community are profoundly saddened and stunned by the loss of Eric Montross, one of our most beloved former student-athletes, at far too young an age,” the North Carolina athletics said. 

“Eric was a great player and accomplished student, but the impacts he made on our community went way beyond the basketball court. 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.

“He helped the Rams Club secure scholarships for student-athletes, and as color analyst for the Tar Heel Sports Network he brought perspective, heart and humor to UNC fans near and far. Eric also became an ardent supporter of the Lineberger Center while in college and remained a leader in the fight against cancer throughout his life.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Laura, his children and entire family, and his colleagues and friends. The number of people who loved Eric and were touched by him is immeasurable.”

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Eric Montross for the Nets

Montross was a McDonald’s All-American in 1990 before he committed to play for the Tar Heels. He emerged as a First-Team All-ACC in 1993 and a Second-Team All-ACC selection in 1994. He was a Second-Team All-American for the Tar Heels in 1993 and 1994.

He helped North Carolina to a national championship over the “Fab Five” Michigan team in 1993.

He turned pro after the 1993-94 season. The Boston Celtics chose Montross with the No. 9 overall pick of the 1994 draft, and he made the All-Rookie Second Team.

Montross played in the NBA from 1994 to 2002 and played for the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and the Pistons. He finished his career averaging 4.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 465 career games.

Eric Montross calls a game

In his post-playing career, Montross was a color commentator for the Tar Heels Sports Network.

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