NBA referee Tony Brown dies at 55 of pancreatic cancer


Veteran NBA referee Tony Brown, who officiated more than 1,000 games in a 20-year career, died on Thursday of pancreatic cancer.

He was 55 years old.

“Tony Brown was one of the most accomplished referees in the NBA and an inspiration to his colleagues,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “After his pancreatic cancer diagnosis early last year, Tony fought courageously through countless rounds of treatment to return to work this past season at the NBA Replay Center, demonstrating the dedication, determination and passion that made him such a highly respected official for 20 years. 

“The entire NBA family mourns Tony’s passing and we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Tina; their children, Bailey, Basile and Baylen; and his fellow referees.”

Brown was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April 2021 and missed the rest of the 2020-21 season and last season. He underwent chemotherapy, and last season, he worked some nights in the NBA Replay Center.

Referee Tony Brown runs on the sideline during a game between the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors on March 17, 2021.

““We are and have been sustained by the consistent outpouring of love and support through this journey in developing strength, acceptance and peace,” Tina Brown, Tony’s wife, said in a statement. “We ask that you join us in that spirit as we prepare to celebrate Tony’s life. Our biggest thank you to our village of family and friends, near and far, old and new. Your love is immeasurable. 

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