Mark Eaton, Utah Jazz All-Star, Dead at 64

Mark Eaton, the former NBA center who spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz, died on Saturday, the team announced. He was 64 years old. The Jazz revealed that Eaton was found was lying on the road Friday night after crashing his bike in Summit County, Utah. The Summit County Sheriff's Office said that Eaton was sent to the hospital, where he later died. Police don't believe a vehicle was involved in the crash.

"The Utah Jazz are profoundly saddened at the unexpected passing of Mark Eaton, who was an enduring figure in our franchise history and had a significant impact in the community after his basketball career. Mark played his entire 11-year NBA career with the Jazz and his number was retired as an NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year," the Utah Jazz said in a statement. "His presence continued around the organization as a friend and ambassador while giving back as a businessman and volunteer to his adopted hometown in Utah. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Teri and their extended family. Mark will be greatly missed by all of us with the Jazz."

Easton was drafted by the Jazz in the fourth round of the 1982 NBA Draft out of UCLA. The 7-foot-4 center was one of the best defensive players in the league, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 and 1989. He led the NBA in blocks four times and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First team three times. He finished his career with 6.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.

Eaton's path to the NBA was unique. Before joining the Jazz or UCLA, Eaton was working as an auto mechanic in Arizona when a community college basketball coach discovered him in 1977. Eaton enrolled in Cypress College before joining the Bruins of UCLA.


"I had an unusual background," Eaton said. "It's an unlikely story to be sure. I basically came into the NBA with two years of junior college experience and sat on the bench at UCLA for two years. And Frank Layden gave me a chance and the team was in a space where they could afford to let me make some mistakes out there and get my feet underneath me. It worked out well for both of us." After retiring from the NBA in 1993, Eaton became the owner of a local restaurant Tuscany's and Franck's he also became an author and motivational speaker.