Former Pittsburgh Steelers star Tunch Ilkin dies at 63 after battle with ALS

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans are mourning the loss of one of the team’s stars as former offensive lineman Tunch Ilkin died after a battle with ALS.

Ilkin was 63 His death was first reported Saturday by KDKA.

He announced in October 2020 that he had been diagnosed with ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease — but continued in his role for the 2020 season. His 23 years as a Pittsburgh broadcaster came to an end in June when he retired to focus on his battle.

Overall, Ilkin spent 37 years working in professional football, 14 as a player, followed by 23 as a broadcaster with the Steelers.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1957, Ilkin went on to become a sixth-round pick out of Indiana State. He was backup for three seasons before becoming a full-time starter at tackle in 1983 and started 141 games. He made the Pro Bowl twice as a Steeler in the 1980s.

He was the first Turk to play in the NFL.

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He is part of the 2021 class into the team’s Hall of Honor, joined by fellow tackle Jon Kolb, defensive back Carnell Lake, and wide receiver Louis Lipps.

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