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Lakers owner Jerry Buss passes away at age 80 following battle with cancer

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(CNN) - Legendary Los Angeles Lakers owner and real estate magnate Jerry Buss has passed away at the age of 80 on Monday, Feb. 18 due to complications from cancer, according to The Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan.

Los Angeles Times' David Wharton confirmed Bresnahan's report:

Buss died Monday of an undisclosed form of cancer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, according to his longtime spokesman, Bob Steiner.

Though Buss' cancer diagnosis was kept private, word had leaked of his declining health in recent days. RadarOnline.com reported on Feb. 14 that Buss' family and friends had been summoned to his bedside and the prognosis was not good.

Buss, whose legend began in the real estate community, was a pioneer on the Los Angeles sports scene for parts of five decades. After acquiring his wealth as a co-owner of Mariani-Buss Associates, Buss slowly started expanding his empire with the purchase of sports franchises.

He started as an owner of the Los Angeles Strings in World Team Tennis. When that league went defunct in 1978, Buss' focus shifted toward making a much bigger splash in the Los Angeles community.

In 1979, he purchased the Lakers, the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL, the Los Angeles Forum and a ranch from previous owner Jack Kent Cooke. Buss stayed an owner of the Kings before slowly selling them off to Bruce McNall in the late 1980s, but he truly made his mark with the Lakers.

Always one of the NBA's preeminent franchises, the Lakers had gone through a bit of a downslope prior to Buss buying the team. They had not won a championship since the 1971-72 season, a streak that Buss instantly set out to end.

It took him exactly one season to hoist another banner in the Forum. That title during the 1979-80 campaign sparked a run that will go down as one of the greatest among all owners in the four major professional sports leagues.

Buss' Lakers went on to span 10 NBA championships and include the careers of Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and plenty of other all-time great players. He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor to the game in 2010, an honor bestowed upon a select few owners.

His is a legacy that goes beyond just the Lakers and Los Angeles community. Our thoughts are with the Buss family and Lakers organization as they deal with this unfortunate tragedy.

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