Mark Eaton, record-breaking 7-foot-4 shot blocker for the Utah Jazz, dies age 64, while on a bike ride in Salt Lake City

 Mark Eaton, the 7-foot-4 shot-blocking king and former two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has died at age 64 after he went for a bike ride Friday evening and failed to return.

The Utah Jazz, with whom he spent his entire 11-year career from 1982 to 1992, confirmed his death to The Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Eaton was found with his bicycle on Long Rifle Road in the Silver Creek Estates neighborhood of Summit County by a neighbor who called 911 at 8.26pm on Friday, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.


Deputies with the Summit County Sheriff's Office responded and he was transported to a local hospital, where he he died.

Officials noted to the outlet that there was no evidence that a car was involved in the incident.

Eaton was found with his bicycle on Long Rifle Road in the Silver Creek Estates neighborhood of Summit County by a neighbor who called 911 at 8.26pm on Friday. He shared many pictures of himself cycling on Twitter

Eaton was found with his bicycle on Long Rifle Road in the Silver Creek Estates neighborhood of Summit County by a neighbor who called 911 at 8.26pm on Friday. He shared many pictures of himself cycling on Twitter

Mark Eaton, right, is pictured with John Stockton, left, after the game between Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets during Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2018 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena Salt Lake City, Utah

Mark Eaton, right, is pictured with John Stockton, left, after the game between Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets during Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2018 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena Salt Lake City, Utah

Mark Eaton #53 of the Utah Jazz attempts to block the shot of James Worthy #42 of the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA basketball game circa 1989
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #33 of the Los Angeles Lakers posts up Mark Eaton #53 of the Utah Jazz on January 26, 1988 at The Forum in Inglewood, California

LEFT: Mark Eaton #53 of the Utah Jazz attempts to block the shot of James Worthy #42 of the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA basketball game circa 1989. RIGHT: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #33 of the Los Angeles Lakers posts up Mark Eaton #53 of the Utah Jazz on January 26, 1988 at The Forum in Inglewood, California

The Jazz described him in a statement as an 'enduring figure in our franchise history' who had a 'significant impact in the community after his basketball career.'

Utah coach Quin Snyder said Saturday night before Game 3 in Memphis that the team's thoughts and prayers go out to Eaton's wife.

'Mark was someone that was a friend, and I think a friend who a lot of us, in his relationship with Rudy Gobert I think is emblematic of who he was and his ability to listen,' Snyder said. 

'And then to offer counsel and support was something that was really unique, and obviously we´ll miss him.' 


Just two days ago, Eaton posted on Twitter a photo of himself in Chicago, flanked by former NFL players Paul Krause and Jim McMahon. He was part of the group invited to watch umpire Joe West set the all-time mark for games umpired on Tuesday.

Eaton, a native Southern Californian, played at UCLA and was a fourth-round draft pick of the Jazz in 1982. The center averaged 6.0 points per game in his career, but scoring was just a bonus for the Jazz.

It was on the defensive end that he was a stalwart for the Jazz. Four times, he led the NBA in blocked shots, rejecting a record 5.6 shots per game in the 1984-85 season. 

A three-time selection to the league's first-team All-Defensive Team, he was Defensive Player of the Year in the 1984-85 and 1988-89 seasons. He received his only All-Star selection in the latter year.

Chris Mullin #17, Mark Eaton #53, James Worthy #42 and Tom Chambers #24 of the Western Conference All-Stars take the court with his teammates during the 1989 NBA All-Star Game played February 12, 1989 at the Summit in Houston, Texas

Chris Mullin #17, Mark Eaton #53, James Worthy #42 and Tom Chambers #24 of the Western Conference All-Stars take the court with his teammates during the 1989 NBA All-Star Game played February 12, 1989 at the Summit in Houston, Texas

Mark Eaton #53 of the Utah Jazz battles for post position against Hakeem Olajuwon #34 of the Houston Rockets during an NBA game at The Summit circa 1987 in Houston, Texas
Eaton goes up for a slam dunk against the Phoenix Suns during an NBA basketball game in 1989 at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona

LEFT: Mark Eaton #53 of the Utah Jazz battles for post position against Hakeem Olajuwon #34 of the Houston Rockets during an NBA game at The Summit circa 1987 in Houston, Texas. RIGHT: Eaton goes up for a slam dunk against the Phoenix Suns during an NBA basketball game in 1989 at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona

Eaton shoots over Jeff Ruland #43 of the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game in 1984 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland

Eaton shoots over Jeff Ruland #43 of the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game in 1984 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland

Eaton was remarkably durable throughout his career, missing just nine regular-season games in his first 10 seasons with the Jazz.

He retired with an average of 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 875 career games (815 starts). His 3.5 blocks per game are an NBA record. He is fourth on the all-time list for blocks with 3,064.

'I had an unusual background,' Eaton said for a story published on the Jazz web site two years ago. 

'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.'

He added: '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.' 

The Salt Lake Tribune noted that, since his retirement, Eaton had become a successful restaurateur owning the restaurants Tuscany and Francks in Holladay - an award-winning French restaurant. 

He also served as president of the National Basketball Retired Players Association, and occasionally served as a commentator for Jazz games - having attended most of them over the years, the outlet reported. 

The union released a statement Saturday saying he would be missed.

'It may be cliched, but it´s true: Mark Eaton was a giant, in every sense of the word,' the NBPA statement said. 

'Mark served his colleagues with grace and strength, and continued to watch over them through his service for the Retired Players Association. His imposing physical presence made a delightful match with his warm and thoughtful manner.'

Utah coach Quin Snyder said Saturday night before Game 3 in Memphis that the team's thoughts and prayers go out to Eaton's wife Teri

Utah coach Quin Snyder said Saturday night before Game 3 in Memphis that the team's thoughts and prayers go out to Eaton's wife Teri

Eaton's No. 53 was retired by the Jazz during the 1995-96 season, according to the team.

Other teams also started to pay their respects for the late legend on Saturday.

'RIP Mount Eaton,' the Los Angeles Lakers tweeted.

The NBA tweeted that the league sends its 'heartfelt condolences to his family and many friends.'

'The NBA mourns the passing of Mark Eaton, a Utah Jazz legend and former president of the Retired Players Association. Mark was an All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and beloved member of our league,' the NBA wrote.

The UCLA men's basketball program said the team was 'devastated to learn of Mark Eaton's passing.'

'Our program extends its deepest condolences to the entire Eaton family during this difficult time,' the team wrote.

Mark Eaton, record-breaking 7-foot-4 shot blocker for the Utah Jazz, dies age 64, while on a bike ride in Salt Lake City Mark Eaton, record-breaking 7-foot-4 shot blocker for the Utah Jazz, dies age 64, while on a bike ride in Salt Lake City Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 06:07 Rating: 5

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