Jerry Buss, longtime L.A. Lakers owner, dies at 80

Patrick McDermott

Legendary Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss died on Monday after struggling with an undisclosed form of cancer and other health problems over the past few years.

Jerry Buss, majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, died on Monday after losing a battle with an undisclosed cancer and other health problems that had forced him out of the spotlight during the past few years, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Buss had been admitted into the hospital with the illness on Thursday.

Buss' legacy was easily defined by 10 NBA championships won as owner of the Lakers franchise. A 2010 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, Buss also won two championships as the owner of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

Deeply invested in the league, Buss was the first NBA owner of an D-League team -- he bought the Los Angeles D-Fenders in 2006 -- and twice acted as chairman for the NBA Board of Governors. He bought the Lakers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, the Forum and a ranch in 1979 for $67.5 million.

From Salt Lake City, Utah, Buss earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Wyoming, and he later added a PhD in chemistry to his resume at Southern California. Buss soon got into real estate investing, where he began to grow his fortune that would lead into sports ownership.

Buss had struggled with undisclosed health problems in the last few years. He underwent surgery after developing blood clots in his legs in 2011, and last year underwent another surgery, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He has recently given most of the control and team operations to his son, executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, and his daughter, Jeanie Buss, the executive vice president of business operations.

In his most recent decision, Jerry Buss was said to been supportive of an unanimous decision for the Lakers' hiring of coach Mike D'Antoni. It was a controversial hiring that passed over former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who is also the boyfriend of Jeanie Buss.

Update: The Lakers and Buss family have released a statement on the passing of Dr. Buss:

"We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community," a statement released on behalf of the Buss family said.

Dr. Buss had been hospitalized much of the past 18 months in a battle which "showed his amazing strength and will to live. It was our father's often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy," the statement concluded.


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