Nick Gilbert, the son of Cleveland Cavaliers team owner Dan Gilbert who became the organization’s good luck charm at NBA Draft lotteries, has died. He was 26.
Gilbert was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF1) as a toddler. The disease is a genetic condition that causes non-cancerous tumors to grow on the brain, spinal cord and skin. There is no cure.
The Ira Kaufman Chapel said Saturday in an announcement that Gilbert died “peacefully at home surrounded by family.” He lived in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Gilbert became a viral sensation when he wore a bow tie and dark-rimmed glasses at the 2011 draft lottery. The Cavaliers ended up getting the No. 1 pick and selected Kyrie Irving No. 1. It was one season after LeBron James left the team to sign with the Miami Heat.
Then 14 years old, Gilbert quipped, “What’s not to like?” after his father had praised his efforts and called him his hero.
He represented the Cavaliers at several more lotteries. Cleveland would get the No. 1 pick in 2013 and 2014. The team would draft Andrew Wiggins in 2014 and flip him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a trade that landed Kevin Love. James, Irving and Love would help bring Cleveland a championship in 2016.
Cleveland dedicated its 2022-23 season to Gilbert. The team wore bowtie emblems on their warm-up jerseys to honor him and raise awareness for the disease.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.