Lucious “Luke” Jackson, an NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist has passed away, reports Sports Illustrated. He was 80 years old.
His wife Marva confirmed that his cause of death was heart disease.
Born in San Marcos, Texas, Jackson played one season at Texas Southern before transferring to Pan America College, now known as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. In his stellar collegiate career, he won the Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player Award of the NAIA Men's Basketball Championships in 1963 and 1964. As a member of the U.S. national team, he won a gold medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics.
Jackson was selected with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 1964 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. In his rookie season, he averaged 14.8 points and 12.9 rebounds and was named to the 1964–65 All-Rookie Team.
He won an NBA championship with the 76ers during the 1966–67 season, playing alongside one of the greatest players of all time, Wilt Chamberlain.
According to Marva, Chamberlain paid Jackson the ultimate compliment as a teammate.
“Luke Jackson was the second strongest man I ever played with,” Marva recalled Chamberlain saying. "I’m [Wilt Chamberlain] the first.”
During his eight-year career in the league, Jackson averaged 9.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 522 regular-season games. In the postseason, he put up 9.7 points and 9.1 rebounds in 56 games.
The 76ers paid tribute to Jackson in a post on Twitter.
“We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Lucious “Luke” Jackson, who passed away at the age of 80. An NBA All-Star, Jackson spent his entire eight-season career with the 76ers, playing a key role on the 1967 title-winning team. He will be missed," the post read.
After retiring from the league, he worked for 25 years as the parks and recreation director of the city of Beaumont.
Jackson is survived by his wife Marva and his three children who all played basketball at West Brook High School and college.
We at EBONY extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Lucious Jackson.