After battling a lengthy illness, former Chicago Bulls center Tom Boerwinkle died at the age of 67.
Boerwinkle -- who was drafted by the Bulls in the first round of the 1966 draft -- spent his entire NBA career in Chicago following his college days at the University of Tennessee.
"Tom was a once-in-a-lifetime guy," former Tennessee teammate Bill Justus said in a statement released by the university. "When you meet a guy like him and have him as a teammate, he becomes a brother to you, and there's no replacing someone like that.
"Despite his sheer size and presence, he was as genuine and loyal as can be. That's not just me saying that; those are the sentiments of many, many of his former teammates. What a gentle giant we've lost… one of our best friends."
Boerwinkle retired from the NBA in 1978 with career totals of 4,596 points, 5,745 rebounds, and 2,007 assists and later served as a color analyst in Chicago.
The Bulls have released a statement on Boerwinkle's passing:
“We were all heartbroken this morning to learn of the passing of Tom Boerwinkle. In addition to being one of the Bulls all-time great players, Tom was one of the kindest men you would ever want to meet with the gentlest of souls. A true gentle giant who made great contributions to the Chicago Bulls organization on and off the court. We will miss him greatly and our condolences go out to his wife, Linda, his son, Jeff, and his daughter, Gretchen,” said Steve Schanwald, Executive Vice President-Business Operations.