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Felton Spencer, Louisville hoops legend and 12-year NBA veteran, dies at 55

The former NBA center played a total of 12 seasons with 6 teams.

NBA TV's Sam Mitchell reacts to the passing of his former teammate, Felton Spencer.

Felton Spencer, who set Louisville single-season and career records in field goal percentage before playing 12 years in the NBA, has died. He was 55.

Spencer’s sister, Tammy Pollock, tweeted of his death on Sunday afternoon and the school confirmed information with the family. No cause of death was given.

Louisville tweeted that it was “heartbroken” by Spencer’s passing. Former Cardinals teammate and current coach Kenny Payne expressed love and prayers for Spencer’s family on social media.

Spencer was drafted with the No. 6 pick in the 1990 NBA Draft and averaged 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his NBA career. Aside from the Timberwolves, he also played for the Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs.

The 7-foot Louisville native known as “Chief” scored 1,168 points from 1986-90, including 32 against Tulane on Feb. 27, 1990, that’s tied for eighth all time at the school. Spencer averaged 14.9 points per game as a senior with 188 baskets on 276 attempts (68.1%) to establish the Cardinals’ single-season field goal percentage mark.

His career percentage record of 62.8% (409 of 651 shots) still stands. Spencer also averaged a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game and was a first team All-Metro Conference selection with teammate LaBradford Smith.

He spent three seasons with Minnesota before he was shipped to the Jazz in 1993, where he was a key starter on a Utah team that made the Western Conference finals twice in three seasons. He averaged 7.9 ppg and 8.4 rpg in the 1994 playoffs, where Utah advanced to the Western Conference finals before bowing 4-1 to the eventual champion Houston Rockets.

Former Jazz assistant coach Gordon Chiesa when Spencer played there from 1993-96, called the center a “standout rebounder and competitor.”

Spencer is also had a unique place in NBA lore in that he was the player to start at center for the Magic’s opener in 1996-97, becoming the player to took over the starting center role after Shaquille O’Neal left Orlando to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Spencer later worked as an assistant coach at Spalding and Bellarmine universities in Louisville.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.