Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert’s ‘Good Luck Charm’ Son Dies At Age 26 After Long Battle With Genetic Illness

The passing Nick Gilbert, the 26-year-old son of NBA owner Dan Gilbert, was announced on Sunday. Nick was known by many Cavaliers fans as their “good luck charm.”

“Nick was a light and inspiration to so many throughout his 26 years of life,” the Cavaliers said in a statement Sunday. “Whether taking on his signature role as the Cavs’ good luck charm during several NBA Draft Lotteries or using his voice to advocate in the fight against NF, Nick’s unrelenting spirit has been a driving force behind our organization.”

Nick and Dan Gilbert celebrating after the Cavaliers secured the 2011 NBA draft No. 1 overall pick. (Photo: Screenshot from Bleacher Report Twitter account)

Meet The Gilberts

Dan has owned the Cavs since 2005. He is the founder and chairman of Rocket Companies, a fintech holding company that provides mortgage lending, title and settlement services, and other financial technology services in the U.S. and Canada.

Nick reportedly had a lifelong battle with neurofibromatosis or NF1. It causes non-cancerous tumors to grow on the brain, spinal cord and skin. He is survived by his father Dan and mother Jennifer and what are reported to be four siblings. There is no cure for NF1.

Despite owning the Cavs, Dan and his family lived in Michigan.

“Nick inspired people everywhere with his bravery and brought joy to everyone he met,” wrote Mike Duggan, the mayor of Detroit, on Twitter. “All of Detroit has the Gilbert family in our prayers today.

In 2017, the family launched a foundation that has funded more than $18 million in grant research toward finding a cure for Type 1 neurofibromatosis, a condition for which Nick underwent multiple surgeries. The Cavaliers teamed with the Gilberts’ foundation and the Children’s Tumor Foundation to start the Bow Tie campaign to raise awareness about neurofibromatosis.

The Cleveland Guardians, Browns, TNT’s “Inside The NBA,” and several other professional sports organizations took to Twitter to honor Nick.

Nick’s funeral reportedly will be held on Tuesday at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan.

Lucky Charm

The Cavaliers are the complete opposite of NBA franchises like the Lakers and Celtics that have been in the top tier of the league for generations. Since the lottery was implemented in 1985 NBA draft, Cleveland has picked in the lottery 24 times.

Since Dan Gilbert took over the team in 2005, they have selected in the lottery 10 times. Nick Gilbert was present at the 2011 and 2013 NBA draft lottery selections in which the Cavs secured the No. 1 overall pick both times.

The team took Kyrie Irving with their 2011 selection and Anthony Bennett with their 2013 selection.

Irving went on to become an All-Star and helped win the franchise’s only championship in 2016. Meanwhile, Bennett quickly flamed out of the NBA. He spent only one season with the team. He was on four different teams in his first four NBA seasons before being out the league in 2017.

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