UCLA’s Legend Walt Hazzard suffers heart complications
By: Adrienne Brown
The UCLA Bruins are known for having a stellar basketball program. The team won first NCAA championship in 1964. One of the stars from that game was Walt Hazzard passed away Friday at the age of 69. He suffered long-term heart complications as well as heart surgery.
Hazzard was the co-captain at UCLA as well as coached them for four seasons in the 1980’s. In his senior year, he averaged a 18.6 points as a point guard. He was chosen college basketball’s player of the year, because he averaged 19.8 points in the NCAA tournament. Also at the tournament he was selected as the most valuable player.
After his college, he played for the NBA starting his rookie year with the Los Angeles Lakers and ending his professional career with the Seattle Supersonics in 1974. During his NBA career, Hazzard converted to Islam and changed his name to Mahdi Abdul-Rahman. Unfortunately, the name change wasn’t perceived as well and he felt that it cost him professional opportunities that he would love to have.
The year 1996 was big for Hazzard. The Philadelphia native suffered a stroke in the earlier months of the year. He recovered and became less publicly involved with the community. The same year his UCLA jersey, number 42, was retired.
The Bruins athletic director Dan Guerrero said, “This is a sad day for the UCLA basketball family. Walt was the catalyst for coach John Wooden’s first championship team and played the game with a style that excited Bruin basketball fans everywhere. He contributed to his alma mater in numerous ways, including as a student-athlete, coach and honored alum, and he will be greatly missed by all of us knew him.”
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