Longtime Detroit Pistons Team Physician, Dr. Benjamin Paolucci, Passes Away

DETROIT– Dr. Benjamin Paolucci, longtime Team Physician for the Detroit Pistons, passed away earlier today in Florida at the age of 84.


Paolucci, who was born on March 5, 1937, served the Pistons’ medical needs for over 40 years, having begun his run as Team Physician in the early 1970s.  Paolucci oversaw the club’s medical team during the franchise’s two championship eras – from the Bad Boys back-to-back titles of 1989 and 1990 to the Goin’ To Work championship in 2004 and beyond.  He retired from the organization in 2015.


The Cleveland, Ohio native relocated to Detroit with his family and was a standout football player as a lineman at Detroit Cass Tech High School and later Wayne State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry in 1958 and was inducted into the schools’ athletic hall of fame in 1992.  Paolucci was drafted in the eighth round of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions and remained on the defensive unit during the 1958 and 1959 seasons. 


After serving six months in the US Army in 1960, he started medical school at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and later at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.  Moving on to become a general surgeon, he began his own private practice and served on staff with several Detroit-area hospitals during his long career in medicine.


Paolucci is survived by his wife, Jeanne, five children, Michael, Lawrence, Benjamin, Daniel and Jennifer, and 13 grandchildren.


Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem: “Dr. Paolucci formed meaningful and long-term relationships with many players and staff members across multiple eras of Detroit Pistons basketball.  We are grateful for his years of service to the organization as he devoted much of his time and energy ensuring each player was provided with the best possible care.  Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”


Pistons longtime Athletic Trainer and current Director of Team Operations Mike Abdenour: “Dr. Ben Paolucci truly bled Pistons’ Red, White and Blue.  His championship nature allowed him to extend his console, not only from a medical influence but to all of life’s issues.  Whether it was dealing with our Pistons’ greatest players or to rookies coming to training camp, Dr. Paolucci made a difference in their lives.  He had the unique ability to give his thoughtful care and attention to all with his honest compassion.  His love for the Detroit Pistons was only superseded by the love he had for his family.   Ben Paolucci was the epitome of what it means to be “a man’s man”.  He will be sorely missed.”


Pistons Legend and former President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars: “Dr. Paolucci was truly a great man and loved by everyone in the Pistons organization.”


Pistons Legend Isiah Thomas: “We were fortunate and lucky to know and love Dr. Paolucci.  Being a former great athlete himself, he understood our bodies and was able to inspire us and push us beyond our beliefs.”


Pistons Legend Richard Hamilton: “Dr. Paolucci was not just a doctor to the team – he was like family.  He had such an infectious smile and was a generous and kind person who cared about your actual well-being beyond the basketball court.  I really enjoyed and looked forward to our conversations about basketball and he was very knowledgeable about the game.  My thoughts go out to his family and he will truly be missed.”


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