Former Utah Jazz star Mark Eaton dead after apparent bicycle accident in Summit County
Former Utah Jazz player and NBA All-Star Mark Eaton died after an apparent bicycle accident Friday in Silver Creek, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said.
The accident occurred sometime before 8:26 p.m., when the authorities received a call from someone who found Eaton unconscious in the middle of a road in the Silver Creek Estates neighborhood, a news release stated.
Eaton, a longtime resident of the Park City area, was treated by emergency medical personnel and was transported to a hospital, where he died. He was 64.
The Sheriff’s Office said there were no witnesses to the crash, though authorities do not believe a vehicle was involved. The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner will attempt to determine the cause of death.
Eaton played for the Jazz between 1982 and 1993, spending his entire NBA career in Utah. At 7-foot-4, he was a towering presence on the court who terrorized opposing offenses. He twice was named the NBA’s defensive player of the year and led the league in blocked shots four times. In 1989, he was named to the Western Conference all-star team.
“The Utah Jazz are profoundly saddened at the unexpected passing of Mark Eaton, who was an enduring figure in our franchise history and had a significant impact in the community after his basketball career,” the team said in a statement. “… His presence continued around the organization as a friend and ambassador while giving back as a businessman and volunteer to his adopted hometown in Utah.”
Eaton’s stature also made him a visible presence in the Park City area. On Saturday, after news of his death broke, many Parkites took to social media to offer condolences, and several people noted the friendly personality that accompanied his large frame.
Former U.S. Ski and Snowboard spokesman Tom Kelly lived near Eaton in Silver Creek and told The Park Record in an interview that people in Park City who knew him didn’t view him as a basketball star, but rather as a neighbor and member of the community.
“He was a Parkite. He made this his community some years ago and was an integral part of this community,” Kelly said, adding, “He was a warm and friendly guy and he made you feel welcome around him. He stood out in a crowd but made you feel … like you were part of his day.”
The Park City community’s fondness for Eaton was mutual. In 2010, when Eaton was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, he spoke about the connection he felt to the area. According to a Park Record article, the Southern California native said he signed his first NBA contract in Jeremy Ranch and became enamored with Park City and its abundant recreational opportunities. He bought a home in Jeremy Ranch before later moving to Silver Creek.
“I loved it,” he said of Park City. “I fell in love with it. I’ve always been one for the outdoors and, growing up near the beach, the mountains always intrigued me. I got to ride my mountain bike, go fishing and enjoy it all.”
Eaton during the Hall of Fame induction also recalled participating in his first conference call with members of the media in what was then the Claimjumper restaurant on Main Street.
Following his playing career, Eaton was involved in the restaurant industry and was also a motivational speaker. He told The Park Record in a 2018 interview that he enjoyed motivational speaking because he was passionate about helping people reach their full potential.
Correction: The headline and article have been updated to better reflect that a cause of death has not been determined.
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