‘He was a giant in San Diego:’ Reactions pour in for Bill Walton’s death

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — Many people took to social media after hearing about the death of two-time NBA champion and San Diego native Bill Walton.

Walton, who played for the Portland Trail Blazers, the then-San Diego Clippers and Boston Celtics, died on Monday following a “prolonged battle with cancer,” the professional basketball league announced.

Here are some reactions from national and local figures paying tribute to the gentle giant:

Former President Barack Obama

“Bill Walton was one of the greatest basketball players of all time – a champion at every level and the embodiment of unselfish team play. He was also a wonderful spirit full of curiosity, humor and kindness. We are poorer for his passing, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family.”

NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving

“I am sad today hearing that my comrade & one of the sports worlds most beloved champions & characters has passed. Bill Walton enjoyed life in every way. To compete against him & to work with him was a blessing in my life. Sorry for your loss Walton family. We’ll miss him too. Doc”

Los Angeles Clippers

“We have lost one of the greatest players and personalities that this franchise, this sport and this region have ever known. Bill Walton is synonymous with Southern California basketball: a San Diego native, a UCLA phenom, a Clipper icon. He defined the game as a player, a broadcaster and an ambassador, spreading joy for generations. Wherever he went, whatever he did, Big Red stood above the crowd. The Clippers organization extends our deepest condolences to the Walton family, as well as our utmost gratitude. Bill was a singular force, and we were privileged to know him.”

Bill to increase housing density in California’s coastal areas moves forward

Mayor Todd Gloria

“San Diego mourns the loss of the legendary Bill Walton today. He was a towering figure in basketball and broadcasting as well as a civic icon who loved his hometown. Our city’s thoughts are with his wife, Lori, and the entire Walton family. Godspeed, Bill.”

San Diego County Supervisor candidate and former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer

“Bill Walton wasn’t just a friend and fellow Challenged Athletes Foundation rider. He was a giant in San Diego and meant so much to so many. He stood up for what he thought was right and always told it straight. I will miss our rides together and listening to his take on things. Rest in peace, Bill. You will be missed my friend.”

YMCA of San Diego County

“Today, the YMCA of San Diego County mourns the significant loss of Bill Walton, along with many charitable organizations impacted by the legendary athlete, inspirational community leader, donor, volunteer, and charismatic motivator. Walton has left an incredible mark on San Diego by being a passionate force for boundless generosity and unwavering determination to inspire those around him. Our Y team is grateful to have had his light shined upon us.

Walton’s legacy at the Y is profound. He always took great pride in fostering community, imparting wisdom, and inspiring individuals of all ages with his words and actions. Bill was an active member of our Mission Valley YMCA for many years, enjoying aqua therapy regularly, which he attributed to his well-being. Members often recall how his infectious enthusiasm and positive attitude had the power to uplift everyone around him.”

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to FOX 5 San Diego & KUSI News.