Tony Brown, a prolific NBA referee, passed away at 55 on October 20. The NBA released an official statement including a message from the referee’s family. He passed away in hospice care, surrounded by family in Atlanta.
“We are and have been sustained by the consistent outpouring of love and support through this journey in developing strength, acceptance and peace,” Brown’s family said, “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. a very special thank you to the Emory/Bridgeway Hospice Unit. Your compassion and care went above and beyond. We are forever grateful!”
According to AP, Brown was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer last year. Before entering hospice, Brown was hailed by the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as one of the most accomplished refs in the Nation Basketball Association. He described Brown as “an inspiration to his colleagues,” Silver continued, “After his pancreatic cancer diagnosis carly 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.”
— NBA (@NBA) October 21, 2022
Brown presided over 1,000 games over two decades of his career, including several All-Star and Finals games.
Lebron James took to Twitter to offer praise for Brown’s character. James wrote, “Great ref but greater dude! Loved when I ran on the court for warmups and he would be on the game that night! Your smile & laugh will be missed tremendously here in our sport!”
R.I.P. Tony man!! Great ref but greater dude! Loved when I ran on the court for warmups and he would be on the game that night! Your smile & laugh will be missed tremendously here in our sport! 🙏🏾🤎👑 https://t.co/JI23eZczTi
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 21, 2022