Ex-Cleveland Cavaliers star John "Hot Rod" Williams died after a battle with prostate cancer on Friday (Dec. 11). He was 53.
Williams' agent, Mark Batelstein, told ESPN that his client was diagnosed with cancer about six months ago before learning that it had spread.
"It's devastating," said Wayne Embry, the Cavaliers' former general manager. "He was a hard worker and a great player but I liked him more as a person than a basketball player."
Williams' fomer teammate Danny Ferry also sang his praises, saying how much of a team player he was. "Hot Rod was a great, caring and unselfish teammate," he said. "He was a team first guy. He was also a valuable, intelligent and very underrated player. He could defend anyone. We were all lucky to have him as a teammate and friend."
The power forward/center was especially known for making engine-like noises while he played, thus the nickname.
Williams played a total of 13 seasons in the NBA after being drafted No. 45 overall in 1985. For the first nine of them, he stayed with the Cavaliers and averaged a career-high of 16.8 points to go with his 8.1. rebounds and 2.0 blocks in the 1989-90 season.
Some of his most loyal fans will remember him as a part of the ground that unsuccessfully challenged Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. Before retiring, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks. After leaving basketball professionally, he started a construction business in Sorrento, La., a very small town near Baton Rouge, his hometown.
Our condolences to Williams' friends, family, and fans.
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(Photo by: Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images)
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