Armen Gilliam, who spent three seasons with the 76ers in the early 1990s, died Tuesday night. He was 47.
Gilliam died from a heart attack suffered while playing pickup basketball at an LA Fitness not far from his home in suburban Pittsburgh. He was rushed to St. Clair Hospital and was pronounced dead, according to the report.
In 13 NBA seasons he averaged 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds playing for seven teams. He played for the Suns, Hornets, Sixers, Nets, Bucks and Jazz in his 13 years in the NBA, making the playoffs five times and never getting out of the second round.
Gilliam and Dave Hoppen were traded by the Charlotte Hornets to the Sixers for Mike Gminski in January 1991. With the Sixers, Gilliam averaged 14.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 211 games from 1990-91 to 1992-93 until his departure as a free agent to New Jersey. He started 81 games in the 1991-92 season, averaging 16.9 points. He also started eight playoff games for the Sixers.
"We are deeply saddened to learn about the loss of Armen Gilliam," said Sixers president Rod Thorn. "He was a hard-working, physical player during his distinguished 13 years in the NBA and we are proud of the contributions he made to the Sixers from 1990 to 1993. On behalf of the entire Sixers organization, we send our deepest condolences to the Gilliam family during this very difficult time."
Nicknamed The Hammer, Gilliam was the No. 2 overall pick of the Phoenix Suns in the 1987 NBA draft behind David Robinson.
He also was one of the best players ever at UNLV. He was named to the all-tournament team at the Final Four in 1987 and set the school record with 998 points scored.
“In my ratings, I had Larry Johnson No. 1 and Armen No. 2. He was such a great person. Everybody loved him and he loved everybody,” former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian said in a statement. “He was such a gentle person and such a caring guy. I am all shook up over it. I think the world of him and am just really shocked.”
Gilliam was inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
"Like most people, I am in shock," said Brad Rothermel, who was UNLV's athletics director during the time that Gilliam starred as a Runnin' Rebel and now serves as a special advisor to the athletics director. "Certainly, our wishes go out to his family. He was one of those student-athletes that never caused a problem. He was an excellent player for us and in recent years he was always a regular that would come back for the Legends games at the beginning of each season. Not only would he play, but he would dominate those games. We will really miss him."
Gilliam later came out of retirement and played for the Pittsburgh Xplosion, of the ABA, during the 2005-06 season. He also served as the head coach at Penn State-McKeesport and then Penn State-Altoona in the early 2000s.
Born as Armon Louis Gilliam, he later changed the spelling of his first name to Armen to better reflect the pronunciation.
A tribute video detailing Gilliam's career is embedded below. You can also CLICK HERE for a video of Gilliam dunking over Charles Barkley during a Sixers-Suns game.