Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert made his first public comments since the passing of his son Nick.
Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians held a moment of silence to honor the younger Gilbert on Monday night. The elder Gilbert spoke about his son’s love for Cleveland sports and the city of Cleveland while thanking the Guardians for the gesture.
Thank you, @CleGuardians. Much appreciation. Nick loved Cleveland – especially the people of Cleveland. The parade in 2016 was one of the happiest days of his life. He also attended the last game of the 2016 World Series with me, pulling for Cleveland with everything he had. https://t.co/o309ujJglF
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) May 8, 2023
The younger Gilbert was just 26 years old. He was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF1) as a child.
Neurofibromatosis causes noncancerous tumors to grow on the brain, spinal cord and skin. There is currently no cure for the condition.
The younger Gilbert was a lucky charm for the Cavs, as he was sent to the NBA’s draft lottery multiple times by his father, seeing the franchise leave with the No. 1 pick in the draft on multiple occasions.
In 2011, with the younger Gilbert at the lottery, Cleveland earned the No. 1 pick that eventually became Kyrie Irving, who helped lead the franchise to an NBA title in the 2015-16 season alongside LeBron James.
Cleveland completed an improbable comeback that season, erasing a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors, who had won an NBA record 73 games during the regular season. It is one of the great moments in all of Cleveland sports history.
The elder Gilbert mentioned that the parade following that NBA title was one of “happiest days” of his son’s life.
The Gilbert family started a foundation to aid their commitment in finding a cure for neurofibromatosis.
“Dan and Jennifer Gilbert’s passionate belief that big problems require big solutions informs both their commitment to curing neurofibromatosis and building opportunity and equity for Detroit residents,” the foundation’s website says. “Dan and Jennifer’s commitment to NF research began when their oldest son, Nicolas, was born with NF1. They established the Gilbert Family Foundation in 2015 to advance groundbreaking, cutting-edge NF research and are focused on supporting the best ideas, no matter how radical they may seem at first.”
This season, the Cavs dedicated the campaign to Nick Gilbert and other patients that have been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. The team wore bowtie emblems during warmups during the season.