Armon Gilliam, Former UNLV Great and NBA Player, Dead at 47

Mick Akers@@mickakersAnalyst IJuly 6, 2011

1988-1989:  Forward Armon Gilliam of the Phoenix Suns looks to shoot the ball during a game. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport
Mike Powell/Getty Images

Former UNLV Runnin' Rebel basketball and NBA journeyman Armon "The Hammer" Gilliam passed away Tuesday night at the age of 47.

Gilliam passed away playing the game that gave him many fans and worldwide exposure. Gilliam was playing basketball at a local gym in Pittsburgh,PA when he suffered a heart attack and later died at St. Clair Hospital.

One of a few players in UNLV history to have their jersey raised to the rafters of the Thomas and Mack Center, Gilliam was known as one of the Runnin' Rebels all-time greats and was given his nickname "the Hammer" at UNLV for his attacking, bang-up style of play.

Gilliam was part of the Jerry Tarkanian led UNLV team that went onto win 38 games and a No. 1 ranking and eventually lost in the 1987 Final Four. The Hammer is the seventh leading scorer in UNLV history and also set the single season scoring record for the Rebels, racking up 903 points during the Final Four run in 1987.

Gilliam's former coach at UNLV Jerry Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Sun that, "I'm all shook up," and went on to say "He was such a great person. He would take the shirt of his back for you."

Gilliam was drafted as the No. 2 overall pick in the 1987 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns. Gilliam also spent time with the Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz in his 13-year NBA career that ended in 2000.