The sports figures we’ve lost in 2024

The sports figures we’ve lost in 2024

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Earl Cureton, a two-time NBA Champion and longtime Detroit Pistons ambassador, died after collapsing at his home on Feb. 4, according to The Detroit News. He was 66.

“The Detroit Pistons organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Earl Cureton, a person who meant so much to the organization as a colleague, former player, community ambassador and friend,” the team said in a statement. “As tough a competitor as he was during his playing years on the court, he was equally kind-hearted, outgoing and impactful off of it. He represented our franchise with great passion and truly enjoyed working to give back and improve the lives of Detroiters in the city he loved so much. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Earl’s family and countless friends and teammates during this most difficult time.”

Cureton spent his college career at Robert Morris and Detroit Mercy before being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the third round of the 1979 NBA draft. He averaged 5.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assist per game across a 674-game career. “The Twirl” spent time with the 76ers, Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte Hornets, Houston Rockets, and Toronto Raptors, winning championships with the 1982-83 76ers and 1993-94 Rockets.

After his playing career, Cureton coached in the NBA, United States Basketball League, and Continental Basketball Association and had assistant coach roles in the WNBA. Cureton returned to Detroit Mercy to earn his degree in 2011, fulfilling a promise to his mother. He became a Community Ambassador for the Pistons in 2013, leading Pistons organizational outreach and community partnerships.

“He was just a beautiful dude,” former teammate Chauncy Billups said before the Trail Blazers’ game in Denver, via ESPN. “I spent a lot of time with him in Detroit, obviously. Just a big teddy bear. Always so fun. He had one of those infectious laughs where whenever he laughed he made everybody laugh. Never had a bad day, ever. I marvel at guys like that, people like that. The world can be really rough and tough and they never see it that way, you know? And I loved that about him. Every time I’d go to Detroit, I’d give him a big hug. So, that was tough news today.”

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