Alumnus, Lakers owner Jerry Buss, dies at 80

USC alumnus Jerry Buss, chairman and majority owner of the National Basketball Association Los Angeles Lakers, died Monday morning from kidney failure. He was 80.

The legendary owner had been hospitalized with an undisclosed form of cancer in the past 18 months, according to a statement released by the Lakers.

Buss received a Master’s of Science and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from USC in 1957 after graduating from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor in Science in chemistry.

Buss served as a professor at the university and was an inaugural member of the USC College Board of Councilors.

Though Buss left the university to work in the business and sports world, he conducted philanthropic work at USC. In January 2008, Buss donated $7.5 million to the Department of Chemistry to the USC College, which is now the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, in order to expand and support chemistry education and research at the university.

The donation funded two endowed chairs in the Department of Chemistry, which were named after his USC mentors Sidney Benson and David Dows. The endowment also created a scholarship directed at chemistry graduate students.

Buss was the founding owner of the Los Angeles Strings of World TeamTennis when the team was formed in 1974. Buss bought the Lakers, the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and The Forum along with some other real estate in 1979 for $67.5 million, making it the largest transaction in sports history at the time.

Buss also operated the Women’s National Basketball Association team, the Los Angeles Sparks. In 1999, he moved the three professional sports teams to their current location at the Staples Center. He sold the Great Western Forum in the same year.

Under his management, the Lakers won ten 10 NBA championships from 1980 to 2010. Buss was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Forbes magazine valued the Lakers at $1 billion in January, making it the second most profitable team in the N.B.A.

Gerald Buss was born on Jan. 28, 1933 in Salt Lake City, Utah and was raised in a coal-mining town in Wyoming during the Great Depression. After graduating from USC he worked in aerospace technology for Douglas Aircraft in California and made real estate investments during the Los Angeles real estate boom, according to the New York Times.

Ownership of the Lakers will remain with the Buss family, according to a statement from the Lakers. Funeral and memorial service arrangements are pending.