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Doris Burke of ESPN/ABC passed along during the broadcast of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 121-99 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday at TD Garden that Nick Gilbert, 21-year-old son of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, will undergo major brain surgery at a Detroit-area hospital this week.
It was confirmed by a team spokesman after the game.
Nick Gilbert, 21, the eldest of Dan and Jennifer Gilbert’s five children, was born with with neurofibromatosis, a nerve disorder referred to as NF. It causes tumors to grow anywhere throughout the body.
Nick’s tumors grow in his head. He was diagnosed at 15 months and has been on and off chemotherapy for a decade and a half. He underwent lifesaving brain surgery when he was 10.
Nearly blind, Nick attends Michigan State University, his father’s alma mater. He gained fame across the basketball landscape at at 14 when he served as the team’s representative at the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery show.
Wearing an engaging smile, a bowtie and thick, black-rimmed glasses, he came off as the Cavaliers’ good-luck charm after they came away with the No. 1 overall pick.
When asked about Cleveland, Nick’s response went viral: “What’s not to like?” he said through an ear-to-ear grin.
Dan Gilbert is a member of the board of directors at the Children’s Tumor Foundation, a non-profit organization. Its mission is to find a cure for NF.