Nick Gilbert — son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan and longtime NBA team lucky charm — dies at age 26 from a genetic disorder
- The son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has died at the age of 26
- He lived with neurofibromatosis, a condition with no cure or treatment
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
Nick Gilbert, the son of Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers owner and longtime NBA team lucky charm, has passed away at the age of 26 from a genetic condition he had suffered since his freshman year.
The sad news was revealed on Sunday morning, with the Ira Kaufman Chapel revealing that he died Saturday, “peacefully at home surrounded by family.”
Nick lived with neurofibromatosis, a condition with no cure or treatment that causes noncancerous tumors to grow along nerves in the skin, brain and other parts of the body.
He was first diagnosed when he was 15 months old and initially underwent multiple brain surgeries and chemotherapy, resulting in vision loss.
The 26-year-old was best known among NBA fans for attending the Draft Lottery every year as the Cavaliers’ lucky charm, starting in 2011 after their nightmarish first season without LeBron James.
Amid his presence at the event, they won the No. 1 overall pick, allowing them to select Kyrie Irving, and the then 14-year-old became notorious for his bow tie.
Nick Gilbert pictured representing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery
Gilbert, son of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, holds the NBA Finals trophy in the air in 2016
Nick celebrates at the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery after the Cavs won the first overall pick
He represented the team again in 2012 – when they fell to No. 4 – but in 2013 they again achieved the No. 1 overall pick.
The Cavaliers dedicated the 2022-23 season to Gilbert by wearing bowtie decals on their warmup jackets, and tributes immediately began pouring in for the 26-year-old after news of his passing was released this weekend.
Cavs owner Dan – and father of Nick – said at the start of the season: ‘We want to give a special thank you to the Cleveland fans for always embracing Nick and showing support and love over the years.
“This season we are using the Cavs platform to raise awareness of NF and the millions affected by this disease. While there is currently no cure, we hope through our efforts to help support groundbreaking research. So as you cheer on the Cavs this season, we ask that you keep Nick and all those fighting NF in your hearts.”
After Nick’s death on Saturday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan tweeted his condolences: “Nick inspired people everywhere with his courage and brought joy to everyone he met. All of Detroit has the Gilbert family in our prayers today.”
In 2018, Gilbert underwent another surgery and underwent an eight-hour operation, requiring him to recover for over a month.
The condition may be hereditary, but none of Dan Gilbert’s other four children have been diagnosed.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has an estimated net worth of $18.6 billion, according to Forbes, and he bought the team in 2005 for a then-record $375 million.
His tenure was chaotic, culminating in the arrival of the Cavaliers winning a first-ever NBA title in 2016, while Nick is pictured lifting the trophy in the festivities.