Tony Brown

NBA Referee Tony Brown Dies at 55 of Pancreatic Cancer

A well-liked NBA referee recently passed away after losing his battle with cancer.

The NBA announced that longtime NBA official Tony Brown passed away on Thursday after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 55 years of age. His family and friends were by his side when he died.

“We are and have been sustained by the consistent outpouring of love and support through this journey in developing strength, acceptance and peace,” said Brown’s wife, Tina Brown, in a written statement.

“We ask that you join us in that spirit as we prepare to celebrate Tony’s life. Our biggest thank you to our village of family and friends, near and far, old and new. Your love is immeasurable. Thanks to the Lustgarten Foundation and PanCan. Keep striving for the cures. Many, many thanks to our NBRA and NBA family whose generosity is unmatched. And a very special thank you to the Emory/Bridgeway Hospice Unit. Your compassion and care went above and beyond. We are forever grateful!”

During his career as an NBA referee, Brown officiated 1,110 regular-season games and 35 playoff games over 20 seasons. He made his NBA Finals debut three years ago during the 2019-20 season. As an HBCU alumnus who graduated from Clark Atlanta University, Brown was a member of the officiating crew for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game that took place in Atlanta, which honored HBCUs.

The Associated Press reported that Brown was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer last April. Treatment went so well that he returned to work in the NBA Replay Center last season. His family said he had recently entered hospice care in Atlanta before he passed.

“Tony Brown was one of the most accomplished referees in the NBA and an inspiration to his colleagues,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “After his pancreatic cancer diagnosis early last year, Tony fought courageously through countless rounds of treatment to return to work this past season at the NBA Replay Center, demonstrating the dedication, determination and passion that made him such a highly respected official for 20 years. The entire NBA family mourns Tony’s passing and we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Tina; their children, Bailey, Basile and Baylen; and his fellow referees.”