Clark Atlanta community uplifts former NBA referee battling cancer

ATLANTA — A former NBA referee is fighting for his life. He has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

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On Wednesday, his alma mater surprised him at the hospital.

“Obviously it’s really hard but he’s the strongest person that I know,” said Bailey Brown, daughter of former NBA referee Tony Brown.

It wasn’t that long ago that Brown was at the top of his game calling his first NBA Finals.


Now, just two years later, he’s in hospice at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

“I think that this whole thing has taught me a really big lesson that life is really short and just to love your people,” Bailey Brown said.

On Wednesday night, Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon was there, when it seemed like the calvary arrived to brighten Tony’s spirits.

The men’s basketball team from Tony’s alma mater — Clark Atlanta University — brought Tony a jersey signed by the entire team.

“In his physical, the cancer might be winning, but it’s the other part where we’re beating cancer, and this is one of those moments where we can say we’re beating cancer,” Tony’s wife, Tina Brown said.

Tina and her children were there to accept the gift.

“We thank you again from the bottom of our hearts,” Tina expressed told everyone in attendance.

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That brought a big smile to Tony’s face.

“We believe that Tony Brown displays and embodies exactly what it is to be a Clark Atlanta alumnus,” said CAU head basketball coach Alfred Jordan. “Our school motto is find a way to make one. And while he didn’t get a chance to play basketball while he was at Clark, he still found a way to make sure basketball was a part of his life.”

It was a special delivery that meant so much to a man facing so much at just 55-years-old.

“It was very deep and amazing still,” Tina said.

A fund has been set up to establish a scholarship in Tony’s honor. Donations can be made here.