Jerry Buss passed away this morning at the age of 80, the Lakers announced.
The longtime team owner "had been hospitalized much of the past 18 months," the Buss family said in statement. Last week it was reported that he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as a result of cancer.
According to the family, all will be stable with the franchise:
It was our father's often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family.
His son Jim runs the team's basketball side while daughter Jeanie runs business operations.
Buss bought the Lakers in 1979. There are minority stakeholders, including Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company that owns Staples Center, which has less than 30 percent ownership.
The team says Buss died at 5:55 a.m. after a "long illness."
Instead of sending flowers his family requests that donations be made to the Lakers Youth Foundation in his honor.
[Added at 11:11 a.m.]: Tributes poured in today via Twitter:
Thank you Dr. Buss for putting togethersome of the most soulful and exciting basketball the world will ever see. We're gonna miss you.— Adam Levine (@adamlevine) February 18, 2013
My thoughts and prayers are with the family & friends of Dr. Jerry Buss. He was a great man and an incredible friend.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 18, 2013
Jerry Buss wasn't just any owner who passed away - i.e. The man is trending on twitter worldwide! #GlobalImpact— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) February 18, 2013
Jerry Buss was in it to win it.And understood that just winning in this town wasn't it enough.How you look doing it is critical too. RIP— Jim Rome (@jimrome) February 18, 2013
I'm deeply saddened over da loss of the great Dr. Jerry Buss.He was a dear friend, mentor,and brilliant business mind thank u4 8 gr8 yrs— SHAQ (@SHAQ) February 18, 2013
[Added at 3:49 p.m.]: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement this afternoon:
Dr. Jerry Buss was a cornerstone of the Los Angeles sports community and his name will always be synonymous with his beloved Lakers. It was through his stewardship that the Lakers brought "Showtime" basketball and numerous championship rings to this great City.
Today we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of a man who helped shape the modern landscape of sports in LA, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.