Bill Walton Loved Cycling

Millions of sports fans around the world are mourning the death of NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton who died on May 27th at the age of 71 following a battle with colon cancer.

The Big Redhead, as he was known, won two NCAA championships under John Wooden at UCLA before an NBA career that included winning league MVP in the 1977-78 season and championships with the Portland Trailblazers and Boston Celtics.

Social media has been filled with posts from people who remembered seeing Walton at games, concerts or in airports, and getting a smile and an autograph, and sometimes long conversations.

Long after his playing days ended, Walton was an unofficial goodwill ambassador for San Diego, with his disposition matching the perennial sunny weather. While most people around the country knew Walton for his off-the-wall broadcasting style, many Californians knew him as the really tall guy who often rode his bike around town.

“I love my bike, I love San Diego and I love solar power,” Walton was fond of saying at the many appearances he made for various causes.

He loved riding his bike as a result of all the foot and back injuries that marred his NBA career. He described himself as a “joyrider” and in 2015 rode the entire Amgen Tour of California, completing as much of each leg as possible before dark.

At 6-foot-11, he was believed to be the world’s tallest Deadhead. He once stated that he had seen his beloved Grateful Dead 849 times. The house where he lived for more than four decades near Balboa Park was practically a tie-dyed shrine to the Dead and had a teepee in the backyard.

Bill Walton celebrated life through basketball and through his love for bicycling.  He lived a wonderful life, and he was generous in the way he shared his life with others.