Former Atlanta Hawks center and Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy died Nov. 2 in Atlanta. He was a fixture in the Atlanta community ever since being traded to the Hawks by the Detroit Pistons in 1970.
The Hawks reported the 74-year-old Bellamy was at the team’s home opener on Friday night.
Bellamy was also very active in supporting community events, particularly when it came to area youth. He graciously made a guest appearance in August to support the newly-established Georgia Prep Sports Academy, a post-secondary institution that assists student-athletes in bringing up their GPAs and test scores in order to obtain scholarships.
After his retirement from professional basketball, Bellamy became active with the NAACP, the Urban League and the YMCA in the Atlanta area. He also was an ongoing member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
“The Atlanta Hawks family is saddened to learn of the death of Walt Bellamy,” the Hawks said in a statement. “The Hawks and the National Basketball Association have lost a giant. As an Olympic gold medalist, the first overall pick in 1961, Rookie of the Year in 1962, a four-time All-Star and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, his on-court accomplishments were overwhelming. Off the court, he was equally impactful as a family man, leader in the community, mentor and friend to many.”
In his 14 seasons in the NBA, the 6-foot-11 center averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds and while going up against the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.
“Walt Bellamy was an enormously gifted Hall of Fame player who had a tremendous impact on our game,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement released by the league. “Off the court, he was an even more extraordinary person. Walt is going to be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. On behalf of the entire NBA family, our condolences and thoughts go out to Walt’s family.”