According to a Pistons press release, Earl Cureton, who spent the previous ten years representing the team in the community, died “unexpectedly” on Sunday morning. The team did not offer any additional details.
Owner of the Pistons Tom Gores said of Earl, “He was one of the most giving, optimistic, and caring people I knew.” “Being his friend was a privilege since he was a devoted and loving father. A champion athlete, he served as a valuable community representative. His passing has devastated us.”
The six-foot nine before moving to Detroit Mercy for his final two seasons as a student-athlete, Cureton played his first two seasons of college ball at Robert Morris under head coach Dick Vitale. In the third round of the 1979 NBA draft, Philadelphia chose the native of Detroit.
The 674 NBA games Cureton played in saw him average 5.4 points and 4.7 rebounds. In addition to the Los Angeles Clippers, he played for Charlotte, Houston, Toronto, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He played for the 1982–1983 76ers and the 1993–1994 Rockets, two championship teams.
After finishing his playing career, he became a coach in the Continental Basketball Association, United States Basketball League, and NBA.
In the team’s statement, former Pistons guard Isiah Thomas stated, “He was a fantastic teammate, fierce competitor, a champion, and a great human being.” “Earl devoted his life to improving his beloved city of Detroit, always keeping the people there near to his heart. His absence will be felt deeply.”
Billups remarked, “He was just a beautiful dude,” before the Sunday night’s Trail Blazers game in Denver. “It goes without saying that I was with him a lot in Detroit. Like a giant teddy bear. Always have so much fun. He had a contagious laugh that made everyone laugh anytime he laughed. Never experienced a bad day in my life. I’m in awe of men and others like them. They never see the world that way, you know? It may be quite harsh and difficult at times. I cherished that aspect of him. I used to give him a hearty hug whenever I traveled to Detroit. So, today’s news was not good.”