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Lakers owner Jerry Buss passes away at age 80

Feb 18, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT

File photo of Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss and US actor Jack Nicholson watching the WBC middleweight championship fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles

Lakers owner Jerry Buss has passed away at age 80 after a battle with cancer, NBC News has confirmed. It is a story first broken by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

Lakers spokesman Bob Steiner confirmed Jerry Buss was 80. His date of birth was Jan. 27, 1933.

It was just a few days ago that news broke of the severity of Buss’ condition.

Buss had been hospitalized for some time with an undisclosed form of cancer, but the news was kept private until recently, when players were reported to be visiting him because it was expected that he was in his final days.

Buss is widely recognized as the most successful franchise owner in NBA history, having purchased the Lakers (along with the Forum and the Kings of the NHL) for $67.5 million back in 1979. Buss later sold the Kings in 1988.

Forbes magazine recently valued the Lakers at more than $1 billion.

The Lakers won 10 NBA championships under Buss’ ownership, and his family remains in control of both the basketball and the business side of the team to this day.

Jim Buss is executive vice president of player personnel, and Jeannie Buss is the team’s executive vice president of business operations. The team will remain majority owned by the Buss family through a complex trust where each of Buss’ six children have a stake.

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