UNLV's Hammer Falls Too Soon
When our heroes die young, it always comes as a shock to us.
No matter what the cause, what the age or the circumstances, those larger-than-life people hold a special place in our lives. We inadvertently look at them not as fallible or fragile humans, but instead as immortal.
Such is the case with one of my sports heroes Armen Gilliam who passed away a few days ago at the age of 47. The seventh leading scorer in UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball history, “The Hammer” was in every sense of the word what all Rebels fans appreciate. He was disciplined, he was exciting and he was tough. Much like Las Vegas itself, Gilliam just worked hard, and, in turn helped lead UNLV to their second Final Four in 1987.
"The Runnin' Rebel family lost a true legend," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said in a statement released by UNLV. "As great a player as Armen was, he was even a better person. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Gilliam family."
It was the basketball player that most of us knew. And knowing him was knowing his game.
During his college years, Gilliam sported a sculpted 250-pound frame and resisted all of the trappings of Las Vegas. He never drank, smoked or got in trouble during his time in Las Vegas. Off the court he was a gentle soul always eager to help others and focused on his game, his workouts and on school.
“He was one of the greatest Rebels ever and one of the best players we have ever had," said Jerry Tarkanian, UNLV head coach from 1973-92. "In my ratings, I had Larry Johnson No. 1 and Armon No. 2. He was such a great person. Everybody loved him and he loved everybody. He was such a gentle person and such a caring guy. I am all shook up over it. I think the world of him and am just really shocked."Continued on the next page