Nick Gilbert, the son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, died Saturday due to complications related to neurofibromatosis 1, the team said in a statement. He was 26.
“Nick was a light and inspiration to so many throughout his 26 years of life,” the Cavs said in an Instagram post. “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.”
Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue anywhere in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Gilbert was hospitalized for over a month in 2022 after he faced multiple surgeries during his fight with neurofibromatosis, NBC affiliate WKYC of Cleveland reported.
On social media, Donovan Mitchell, a guard for the Cavs, mourned the loss of Gilbert, who first represented the team at the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery and went on to represent the team five additional times.
“Love You Nick,” Mitchell wrote on Twitter, adding a heart, dove and praying emojis.
Joe Haden, an NFL player who played for the Cleveland Browns for seven seasons, also memorialized Gilbert in tweets, sharing a video and several photos.
“Rest easy king! You brought so much Joy to everyone you encountered! Sending blessing to the Gilbert family,” he wrote.
Gilbert was known for wearing his signature bow ties, and the team honored Gilbert and others with neurofibromatosis during their 2022-23 season. Cavs players wore warmup jackets with bow tie emblems, while broadcasters, coaches and front office members sported bow tie lapel pins.
“It was our honor to stand with Nick this past season and celebrate the strength and resilience of all those impacted by NF,” the team said.
In 2017, the Gilbert family founded NF Forward, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about neurofibromatosis and funds cutting-edge research about the disorder.
A funeral service will be held for Gilbert in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan, on Tuesday, according to his obituary.