How did Willie Cager die? UTEP basketball legend cause of death Explained

Willie Cager

Willie Cager, a member of the Texas Western team that won the national title in 1965–1966, passed away on Sunday morning at the age of 81. Let’s see how did the player die and his cause of death in detail.

How did Willie Cager die?

Cager passed away on March 19, 2023, according to his family. Cager was a member of the historic 1966 Texas Western team.  

UTEP Basketball posted this sad news saying,

“Willie Cager was a beloved member of our 1966 Texas Western NCAA Championship team and a treasured individual within the El Paso Community. Sending our condolences to his family and friends.”

He created history by playing for Texas Western in the 1966 NCAA Championship game against Kentucky, which they won 72–65.

Being the first all-Black starting five in a national championship, the squad made history. The popular Disney film “Glory Road” was influenced by this achievement.

In the national championship contest against Kentucky, Cager scored eight points and six rebounds. His passing coincides with Texas Western’s 57th anniversary of winning the NCAA title.

Who was Willie Cager?

American basketball player Willie Cager competed for the Texas Western (now UTEP) college team in 1966, which claimed the national championship.

Along with Bobby Joe Hill, Orsten Artis, Willie Worsley, and Dave Lattin, Cager began the game. The Adolph Rupp-led Kentucky squad was defeated by Texas Western in the NCAA men’s college basketball championship game in College Park, Maryland, 72-65.

Cager played for the Miners in 77 games between 1965 and 1968, scoring 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds while under head coach Haskins’ tutelage. Later on in life, Cager settled in El Paso and established himself as a pillar of the community.

Early life:

He was born on 1942 in New York. He didn’t participate in high school basketball. Because he assaulted his teacher, he was expelled from high school, which he regretted throughout his life.

He was recruited not by legendary Texas Western College coach Don Haskins, but by an unnamed El Paso banker who suggested him to Haskins after witnessing him play recreational basketball.

Cager was graduated from Texas Western College now the University of Texas at El Paso in May 1969.

Basketball career:

Don Haskins, the Hall of Fame coach, was his mentor. Texas Western played the all-white University of Kentucky with an all-black starting team.

Cager finished with eight points and six boards in Texas Western’s victory in the championship game. His tenure was described as “A skilled low post player” on the school’s website.

Cager, who was raised in New York City, went by the moniker “Scoops”. During the 1965–1966 season, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur; when he was able to play again, Texas Western was forced to use him rarely, in four-minute shifts.

Cager represented Texas Western before being selected by the Baltimore Bullets in the 12th round of the NBA draft. He never played professionally, due to his health.

Cager’s Other roles:

Cager has three children—two boys and a daughter—and lived in El Paso. He served as the supervisor of the after-school basketball program for the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso.

He established the Willie Cager Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports El Paso development projects.

The movie Glory Road was published 40 years after Texas Western’s triumph in 1966. Cager was portrayed by Damaine Radcliff in the movie. Cager ran for the post of mayor of El Paso in 2017.

Willie Cager cause of death:

 Willie Cager, a beloved member of Texas Western’s 1966 NCAA Championship team, has passed away at the age of 81.

The famous player has met with multiple health issues throughout his lifetime.

In 1969, he had a heart attack and a stroke around that time, which left him partly paralyzed. Since then, he moved around in a wheelchair. He was recently hit with cancer.

“Playing with Heart” is a biography of Willie Cager. He was survived by his sons, Kareem and Kenya, and a daughter, Kendeea.

Tributes flooded social media after the demise news of legendary player broke out.


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