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Nicolas ‘Nick’ Gilbert, son of Cavaliers owner, dies at 26

2013 NBA Draft Lottery

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21: Owner Dan Gilbert and Nick Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers poses for a photo after winning the overall number one pick during the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery on May 21, 2013 at the ABC News’ “Good Morning America” Times Square Studio in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

CLEVELAND — Nicolas “Nick” Gilbert, the son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert who became the team’s good luck charm at NBA draft lotteries, died at 26.

A funeral announcement posted by the Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield, Michigan, said Gilbert died Saturday “peacefully at home surrounded by family.”

Gilbert was diagnosed as a child with neurofibromatosis (NF1), a genetic condition that causes non-cancerous tumors to grow on the brain, spinal cord and skin. There is no cure.

“Nick was a light and inspiration to so many throughout his 26 years of life,” the Cavaliers said in a statement on Sunday. “Whether taking on his signature role as the Cavs’ good luck charm during several NBA Draft Lotteries or using his voice to advocate in the fight against NF, Nick’s unrelenting spirit has been a driving force behind our organization.”

Wearing a bow tie and dark-rimmed glasses, Gilbert became a sensation when he represented the team at the 2011 draft lottery.

One season after LeBron James left as a free agent, Cleveland wound up with the No. 1 overall pick and used it to select Kyrie Irving, who became an All-Star and later paired with James to win the championship in 2016.

Then a 14-year-old, Nick Gilbert quipped “What’s not to like?” after his father had praised his efforts and called him his hero.

Gilbert represented the Cavs at several more lotteries. Cleveland also had the No. 1 pick in 2013 and 2014. He often attended the team’s games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with his dad and mom, Jennifer.

The Cavaliers dedicated their 2022-23 season to the younger Gilbert. The team wore bowtie emblems on their warmups to honor him and raise awareness for the disease. Nick Gilbert was first diagnosed with NF1 as a toddler.

While he was attending Michigan State in 2018, Gilbert underwent an eight-hour operation on his brain.

Gilbert’s funeral will be held Tuesday at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan.