Letters to Sports: Bill Walton was one of the greatest human beings

Bill Walton was a life force like no other. He happened to also be one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but that was secondary to being one of the greatest human beings of all time.

Living in Los Angeles my whole life, I have been surrounded by some of the most famous people in the world, and in all my time here, I have never seen so accomplished a person be so generous of spirit, so giving of his time, so genuinely interested in being kind to everyone he met.

Having attended scores of UCLA basketball games, I have personally witnessed Bill staying for hours after every game to make sure every autograph, every photo and every interaction with every fan was given his full attention.

How ironic then that his favorite band was “The Grateful Dead,” when it was so obvious that he was always so grateful to be alive.

William David Stone
Beverly Hills


I’ve been watching basketball for more than 50 years and without a doubt Bill Walton played the game with more enthusiasm than any other player I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t too crazy about Bill’s broadcasting style, but Bill was the best NCAA player I’ve ever seen, with Lew Alcindor, who became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, coming in a close second. Like Bill’s UCLA teammate, Greg Lee, Bill left us way too soon.

Vaughn Hardenberg


Whether arguing with John Wooden about his long hair, marching in Vietnam anti-war protests, or extolling the virtues of the Pac-12 as the ‘Conference of Champions,’ the gregarious Bill Walton was so much more than a legendary basketball player. Now the big redhead moves upstairs and shares his love for UCLA and the Grateful Dead while challenging anyone who dares test his knowledge of almost any topic imaginable to a game of Trivial Pursuit. Rest easy, big guy. You will be missed.

Marty Zweben
Palos Verdes Estates


For four days straight, six years in a row, I was fortunate to enjoy Bill Walton’s company during Byron Scott’s Adult Fantasy Basketball Camp. Bill was always hilarious, kind, enthusiastic, and generous. During two camps he opened his house to campers, which was like a shrine to basketball and the Grateful Dead.

That Walton’s NBA dominance lasted only a few seasons due to injuries does not diminish his greatness or the skill with which he played. He was thrilling to watch. That Bill overcame stuttering to become an insightful and entertaining broadcaster is a testament to his work ethic and perseverance.

I am saddened to hear of his passing, but he’ll live on with all who saw him play or heard his broadcasts.

Ray McKown


In the 50 years since Bill Walton graduated UCLA, a lot has changed in college sports. Bill was a highly recruited high school player that picked UCLA because it was his lifelong dream to play for the Bruins and Coach Wooden. Another school couldn’t wave millions of dollars of NIL money to sway his decision (yes there was Sam Gilbert in the background taking care of the UCLA players). He was not allowed to play on the varsity team as a freshman. Today Bill would be a “one and done” player and not have his retired uniform hanging in Pauley. Now the great ones leave after one year, so will there ever be another player to have his uniform retired and hung in Pauley?

Charles Yacoobian


Bill Walton became known as a broadcaster for his famously unhinged chaotic ramblings (which simultaneously could have everything to do with basketball, and absolutely nothing at all). His games were appointment viewing as a loud and unapologetic shill for the “Conference of Champions,” so, while saddened by his untimely passing, it seems only right that he will never know a world without the Pac-12.

Steve Ross


I had the amazingly good fortune to grow up in the era of the UCLA basketball dynasty. Lew Alcindor, Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Jamaal Wilkes, Gail Goodrich, Marques Johnson, and my favorite player, Bill Walton, the best center I have ever seen.

I had the incredibly good fortune to grow up listening to the likes of Vin Scully, Dick Enberg, Chick Hearn and other legendary announcers. But perhaps my favorite broadcaster of all was that same Bill Walton. He was obnoxious, loud, audacious, outrageous, and talk about hyperbole! But you couldn’t help but love him. You loved his banter; you loved his sarcasm; you loved his enthusiasm … and you loved his undying, genuine and infectious love of the game.

I miss Scully. I miss Hearn. And I already miss Walton — the All-American and All-Pro basketball player, announcer, and human being.

Steve Kaye
Oro Valley, Ariz.


Losing the “Grateful Red,” who I watched on tape delay on KTLA on so many lonely L.A. nights, was a shock to all of us who admired Bill Walton. I saw Bill play on multiple occasions, but my memories today are of seeing him happily riding his bike through Westwood Village, adjacent to UCLA.

I can only imagine Coach Wooden greeting Bill at the Pearly Gates, welcoming him in, but insisting on a haircut and a shave first.

Mike Anderson
Sherman Oaks


Don’t worry, after two weeks in heaven a frazzled God will return Bill Walton to his courtside post, where he will continue to ignore games and share his vision of the universe.

Mario Valvo

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