Former Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton has died at age 64, the team announced Saturday:
We are heartbroken by the passing of Utah Jazz legend Mark Eaton.— utahjazz (@utahjazz) May 29, 2021
Our thoughts are with his family as we all mourn the loss of a great man, mentor, athlete and staple of the community. pic.twitter.com/HkINyLF9ix
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year was found lying in the road around 8:30 p.m. Friday after crashing his bike in Summit County, Utah. According to the Jazz, Eaton was taken to the hospital, where he later died, and there is no reason to believe a vehicle was involved in the accident.
The team said in a statement:
"The Utah Jazz are profoundly saddened at the unexpected passing of Mark Eaton, who was an enduring figure in our franchise history and had a significant impact in the community after his basketball career. His presence continued around the organization as a friend and ambassador while giving back as a businessman and volunteer to his adopted hometown in Utah. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Teri and their extended family. Mark will be greatly missed by all of us with the Jazz."
Eaton spent his entire career with the Jazz, leading the NBA in blocks per game four times. His average of 5.6 blocks per game in 1984-85 still remains the highest average since the NBA started officially tracking the statistic.
The California native averaged six points, 7.9 rebounds and one assist per game while shooting 45.8% from the field in 11 seasons with the Jazz.
During his retirement, Eaton served as a mentor to current Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who is the only other player in Utah history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.
To my great mentor and friend @markeaton7ft4 , one of kind and an amazing human being, i’m grateful for your presence in my life over the years. Gonna miss our conversations. But i know you’ll be watching. pic.twitter.com/XDvEJTPCwp— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) May 29, 2021
His No. 53 was one of the first jerseys retired by Utah.