The news came in a shout-out from ESPN broadcast analyst Doris Burke during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ blowout victory over the Celtics on “Paul Pierce day” at TD Bank Garden in Boston. That’s how most of America learned that Nick Gilbert, son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, was facing major brain surgery this week in a hospital in or near Detroit.
Gilbert, now 21, is best known by NBA fans for the role he played in 2011, when he represented the team and brought home the draft pick that was used to land All-Star guard Kyrie Irving. ESPN's Dave McMenamin pulled together a brief report on the younger Gilbert’s health challenge:
Gilbert's son was born with neurofibromatosis, commonly referred to as NF, a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body at any time.
Nick Gilbert entered into basketball fans' collective consciousness as a 14-year-old when he served as the Cavs' representative at the 2011 NBA Lottery wearing a bowtie and thick, dark-rimmed glasses. He was dubbed the franchise's good luck charm when they won the No. 1 pick.
He has already been through one life-saving brain surgery more than 10 years ago and has been treated by chemotherapy on and off for 15 years.
Nick is one of Dan Gilbert's five children and attends Michigan State University, his father's alma mater.