Eric Montross, national basketball champion with North Carolina, dies at 52

Eric Montross, a national champion and radio analyst for University of North Carolina basketball, died Sunday after a battle with cancer.

Montross was 52. His family made the announcement Monday morning in a school-issued statement. He is survived by his wife, Laura; his daughters, Sarah and Megan; and his son, Andrew.

In a statement, the Montross family said they were “grateful for the tremendous support and the truly overwhelming love expressed by so many people as he battled with his signature determination and grace.”

They also thanked UNC’s Lineberger Cancer Center, “who matched his fight with equal passion.”

“To know Eric was to be his friend, and the family knows that the ripples from the generous, thoughtful way that he lived his life will continue in the lives of the many people he touched with his deep and sincere kindness.”

Montross, who was diagnosed with cancer in March, joined North Carolina as a radio analyst for the Tar Heel Sports Network in the early 2000s. He has served alongside the late Woody Durham and current play-by-play announcer Jones Angell.

During his time with the Tar Heels, Montross was an All-American and the starting center for the 1993 national championship squad. He was a top-10 pick in the 1994 NBA draft, made the 1994-95 All-Rookie Team and played for six teams over eight seasons.

The 7-footer’s No. 00 jersey hangs in the rafters at the university's Smith Center.

In a statement, UNC athletics said “the Tar Heel basketball family and the entire University community are profoundly saddened and stunned by the loss of Eric Montross, one of our most beloved former student-athletes, at far too young an age.

“Eric was a great player and accomplished student, but the impacts he made on our community went way beyond the basketball court. He was a man of faith, a tremendous father, husband and son, and one of the most recognizable ambassadors of the University and Chapel Hill,” the statement read.

“He helped the Rams Club secure scholarships for student-athletes, and as color analyst for the Tar Heel Sports Network he brought perspective, heart and humor to UNC fans near and far. Eric also became an ardent supporter of the Lineberger Center while in college and remained a leader in the fight against cancer throughout his life.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Laura, his children and entire family, and his colleagues and friends. The number of people who loved Eric and were touched by him is immeasurable.”

Montross prepared a 3-minute video message for UNC fans on Oct. 13 during “Live Action with Carolina Basketball” at the Dean E. Smith Center. In the video, Montross had a personal request for everyone in attendance.

“Everyone knows someone who is being affected by cancer,” Montross said.

“Tonight, when you get home – or sometime over the weekend – give that person a call … shoot them a text. Touching base matters. We feel your support, and it helps us get through what might be the toughest days we have ever endured. That’s a powerful way to have a major impact on the fight against cancer.”

Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at or @RoddBaxley on X/Twitter.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Eric Montross, former North Carolina star and NBA player, dies at 52