Stephen A. Smith shared memories of Bill Walton, who died Monday CREDIT: ESN

Tributes and memories continue to pour in for Basketball Hall of Fame center and longtime ESPN personality Bill Walton.

Walton died Monday after a battle with cancer. The 1977 NBA MVP was 71 years old and surrounded by loved ones, his family said in a statement released by the NBA.

After his NBA career came to a close, Walton followed in the footsteps of many former players and decided to give television a try, first with CBS, then NBC, and later with ESPN where he continued to call games through the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Walton’s ESPN colleagues have been sharing remembrances of the one-of-a-kind character throughout the day.

Stephen A. Smith, who worked with Walton on NBA Shootaround which would later become NBA Countdown, ESPN’s NBA pregame show, said Monday on SportsCenter that he “lost a friend” with Walton’s passing.

“He was a wonderful man. So full of life. Such a pleasant guy. I have the unique position of being somebody who knows his basketball career and has been able to chronicle his basketball career as a reporter, but I also worked with him years ago for a couple of seasons on NBA Shootaround. He’s one of the greatest centers to ever play the game of basketball,” Smith said, before discussing his personal relationship with Walton.

“He was so full of life and so joyful. He loved every moment he was on this earth like he had something to give to all of us. Then the minute the show would come on, he was as straight of a shooter as they came. If you were great, he said so. If you were average, he said so. If you were poor, he told you that too. He pulled no punches. Just an honest and good human being. I loved him a lot. He was a really good man.”

[ESPN on YouTube]