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Nick Gilbert, son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner, passes away at 26

The 26-year-old suffered from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerve pathways anywhere in the body.

CLEVELAND — Nick Gilbert, the 26-year-old son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, passed away on Saturday, May 6. 

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Nick suffered from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerve pathways anywhere in the body that has no known cure.

The 26-year-old was known for his bow ties and representing the team during some of the biggest moments at the NBA Draft Lottery.

A funeral service for Nick will be held on Tuesday, May 9, at 1 p.m. at the Temple Israel in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan.

The Cleveland Cavaliers issued a statement on Sunday evening following his passing:

“It is with heavy hearts that we join the Gilbert family and the Rock Family of Companies in mourning the loss of Nick Gilbert, who passed away yesterday from complications related to Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1).

Nick was a light and inspiration to so many throughout his 26 years of life. 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.

It was our honor to stand with Nick this past season and celebrate the strength and resilience of all those impacted by NF. Our season-long Bow Tie campaign was a constant reminder that there’s still more work to be done to find a cure.

Those who would like to honor Nick’s memory are asked to contribute to NF Forward at nfforwarddetroit.org/donate.

We send our thoughts, prayers and love to the entire Gilbert family and to everyone who loved Nick.”

On Monday, Dan Gilbert responded to a tweet from Cleveland.com's Joe Noga referencing the Cleveland Guardians' moment of silence for Nick Gilbert at Progressive Field prior to Sunday afternoon's game with the Twins. 

"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."

The full obituary for Gilbert can be viewed here.

Nick became the team's "good luck charm" when he represented the team at the NBA Draft Lottery in 2011. Since, Nick represented the Cavaliers at five more draft lotteries, including when the club selected Darius Garland in 2019.

In 2022, Nick faced multiple surgeries, some of which left him hospitalized for over a month as he continued to battle against neurofibromatosis.

During the 2022-23 season, the Cavs dedicated their season to Nick and individuals affected by neurofibromatosis. The team wore bowtie emblems on their warmup jackets, while broadcasters, coaches and front office members wore lapel pins of the symbol.

In 2017, the Gilberts established NF Forward, a nonprofit organization working to fund groundbreaking, cutting-edge NF research as well as raise awareness about NF.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on Oct. 26, 2022.

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