Original Blazer LeRoy Ellis dies at 72

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LeRoy Ellis, who played 14 years in the NBA and was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers first team in 1970-71, has died of prostate cancer. He was 72.

The Portland Trail Blazers announced on Saturday night that Ellis died in Portland after a long battle with cancer.

Ellis was a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn, and played at St. John's from 1959-62. He still holds the school single-season record for rebounding with an average of 16.5 in his junior year, and the record for most rebounds in a game with 30 against NYU on Dec. 30, 1961.

"For a big guy, he was awfully quick. You can never catch him," St. John's Hall of Fame coach Lou Carnesecca said. "He had a soft touch and was a good rebounder. He was a quiet guy, you never knew he was around. But when he was on the court, you always knew."

He was drafted sixth overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1962.

Ellis appeared in 1,048 NBA games with the Lakers, Baltimore, Portland and Philadelphia. He posted career averages of 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, and was a member of Los Angeles' 1972 championship team.

He led the Blazers in their inaugural season in rebounds (12.3) and ranked third in scoring (15.9). It was his only season in Portland.

"LeRoy Ellis was a very important member of the first Trail Blazers team and was a very high-class individual," said Trail Blazers Founder and President Emeritus Harry Glickman. "We extend our deepest sympathy to his family."