Former NBA center and Louisville basketball legend Felton Spencer died on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at the age of 55. His sister, Tammy Pollock, announced his death on Twitter, saying he passed away peacefully at the University of Louisville Hospital. The cause of his death was reported to be a heart attack, according to CFCW.
A Beloved Basketball Player
Spencer was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and played for the University of Louisville from 1986 to 1990. He was a standout player for the Cardinals, leading them to three consecutive Metro Conference tournament wins and setting a school record for career field goal percentage (62.8%). He was also named to the All-Metro Conference First Team in 1990.
Spencer was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the sixth overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. He played for the Timberwolves for four seasons, earning a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1991. He averaged 7.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in his rookie season.
Spencer later played for five other NBA teams: the Utah Jazz, the Orlando Magic, the Golden State Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs, and the New York Knicks. He retired from professional basketball in 2002, after playing in 604 NBA games and averaging 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
A Kind and Gentle Giant
Spencer was remembered by his former teammates, coaches, and fans as a kind and gentle person who loved his alma mater and his community. Rex Chapman, a fellow Kentucky native and former NBA player, tweeted that Spencer was “one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever known.” He added that they had known each other since age 15 and played against each other in college and the pros.
The University of Louisville men’s basketball team also paid tribute to Spencer on Twitter, saying they were “heartbroken” by his passing. They praised him as a “beloved member of the Louisville community” and a “UofL great.”
Gordon Chiesa, a former assistant coach for the Utah Jazz who coached Spencer from 1993 to 1996, said that Spencer’s “humility and spirit enhanced” the team. He said that Spencer was a “standout rebounder, interior defender and competitor.”
Spencer’s sister, Tammy Pollock, thanked everyone who participated in his care and expressed her pride in his achievements on and off the court. She said that he was a “kind, gentle giant whose physical presence will be sorely missed.” She also asked for prayers and thoughts for his loved ones.