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Bryce Miller: Bill Walton was San Diego's champion, cheerleader -- and soul

Bryce Miller, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Basketball

If you felt wetness on your shoulder or saw it on a windshield Monday, those were the tears of San Diego mourning the unimaginable and unshakable loss of a man who defied convention or explanation.

Bill Walton was a basketball player by the narrowest definition only, despite being one of the best to ever lace up sneakers.

Walton, who died Monday at 71 after a prolonged battle with cancer, was a tireless, unstoppable freight train of cosmic good. He gushed about his beloved San Diego, but also books ... and music ... and sunshine.

He taught us to celebrate the day, the hour and the minute. He was, as he reminded us over and again, the luckiest guy in the world.

The truth behind his truth: We were the lucky ones.

"There are no words," said Lucky Duck Foundation co-founder Pat Kilkenny, the former Oregon athletic director who became a trusted friend. "He defied words. He defied characterization. There was one of him and there will never be another one. He was an absolute treasure."

 

One of one.

Walton was as unexplainable as he was unguardable. How can someone be so humble? So inclusive? So giving? So kind? So ... good? He was the big redhead with the exponentially bigger heart.

Kilkenny said Walton and his wife Lori supported more than 100 charities. In reality, it was impossible to count and track. When I asked Bill to come up with an exact figure one time, he shrugged.

It would have been more possible to count grains of sand along Pacific Beach. He just said yes. Again and again and again. It seemed as if he would say yes until the world's problems were buttoned up, spit polished and basking in his cherished coastal rays.

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©2024 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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