Danny Lotz, a former UNC basketball standout and Billy Graham’s son-in-law, passed away on Tuesday after he was found unresponsive in his pool on Monday afternoon.
Lotz, who had been married to Graham’s daughter Anne since 1966, was in a North Carolina ICU after being treated poolside before passing away. Anne posted an update on her website after news broke of Danny’s death, calling him “God’s Gladiator.”
Here’s what you need to know about Lotz, his athletic career and his expansive charity work:
1. Lotz Died After Being Found Unresponsive in His Backyard Pool on Monday
Lotz, 78, was discovered unresponsive in his pool at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Monday afternoon, according to multiple media reports. He was treated by the side of the pool at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina before being admitted to the ICU at a local hospital.
His wife Ann Graham Lotz posted a Facebook update shortly afterwards that read:
He is currently in a hospital ICU receiving excellent care. There are no answers yet as to the outcome. The family is standing firm in faith, trusting Jesus. Thank you for your prayers.
The Charlotte Observer added that it was actually Anne found her husband unresponsive at home.
2. He Reportedly Suffered From Chronic Health Issues
According to Christian Today, Lotz has previously suffered from a handful of health issues, including seizures due to problems with diabetes. However, it isn’t yet known if any of his previous issues contributed to his collapse, and subsequent death, this week.
Lotz was diagnosed with a severe case of Adult 1 diabetes when he turned 50 and he battled the disease until his death, even losing sight in one eye and hearing in one year.
The WRAL television station, a local station in the Raleigh area, also reported that Lotz, a native of Nortport, New York, has been undergoing dialysis for the past six years. The station also reported that the Wake County Sheriff’s Office is investigation the situation as well.
3. Lotz Played College Basketball at North Carolina in the 1950’s
Lotz’s name first found the spotlight in the mid 1950’s a standout on the North Carolina men’s basketball team. The six-foot-seven Lotz was a forward on the Tar Heels undefeated national championship team in 1956-67. It was the second undefeated champion in NCAA basketball history and the first-ever ACC team to win a title.
Lotz was a sophomore on that national championship team, which defeated Kansas 54-53 in the NCAA final.
4. He Received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in February
After his basketball career wrapped up Lotz served the North Carolina community as a local dentist and had been involved nationally with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
This February, in a surprise ceremony, surrounding by family and friends, Lotz was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which recognizes outstanding North Carolinians for their life time of service to the state. He told The Durham Herald-Sun at the time “I had no idea, but I’m so blessed and thankful for it.”
State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey, a former congressman and UNC athletic director, presented the honor on behalf of Gov. Pat McCrory at Amity United Methodist Church.
5. Lotz Had Three Grown Children With Anne
Lotz always grew up around religion. His father was a preacher and a major influence on his life and once Lotz wrapped his career on the basketball court, he looked to continue making his father proud by working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the Raleigh area. It was through that organization that he met his wife, Anne Graham.
He explained how he met Anne in an interview with Christianity.com:
Through this organization I ministered on campus and around the state and then years later, at an FCA conference in 1964, I first met Anne. She was dating a high school fellow and her folks – Dr. Billy and Ruth Graham – lived right across the street from where an FCA conference was to take place. Anne came over to hear the speakers, and the first time I saw her, that’s all it took for me. I fell head over heels in love with her.
Lotz was 28 when he first met the 17-year-old Anne but the attraction was undeniable and the pair were eventually married on September 2, 1966. The couple have three grown children together and three grandchildren.