Former UCLA, NBA star Walt Hazzard dies

By Beth Harris

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 18 2011 7:30 p.m. MST

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said, "Not only was Walt an outstanding player, but his knowledge of the game was extremely valuable to our front office as well over the past 17 years. In the years since his stroke, he has been an inspiration to many of us with his perseverance and his passion for the game."

Hazzard, a native of Wilmington, Del., starred at Philadelphia's Overbrook High, where Wilt Chamberlain had played years earlier. During his three-year varsity basketball career, Hazzard led the school to an 89-3 record and two city titles. He also played baseball and ran track, and was student body president.

Hazzard is survived by wife Jaleesa, a Bruins song girl during the 1964 NCAA title season, and sons Yakub, Jalal, Khalil and Rasheed. During his NBA career, Hazzard converted to Islam and changed his name to Mahdi Abdul-Rahman. He felt the change was poorly received and cost him professional opportunities so he returned to using his given name professionally while remaining a devout Muslim.

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