The versatile small forward spent his first 11 professional seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, reaching the NBA Finals twice. He won an NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999 and retired two seasons later.
Kersey lived in Lake Oswego outside Portland and had just appeared Tuesday at a Portland high school for a Black History Month celebration with fellow former Trail Blazers Terry Porter and Brian Grant.
“Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” team owner Paul Allen said in a statement. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It's a terrible loss.”
Clyde Drexler also expressed shock at the sudden passing of his former Portland teammate.
“He was the greatest guy, the nicest friend, teammate and brother. He was loved by everyone. We will all miss him. He just cared so much,” Drexler told Comcast SportsNet Northwest. “This is unbelievable.”
Kersey averaged 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds during a career that also included stops in Golden State, Seattle and Milwaukee. He is near the top of several all-time lists for the Trail Blazers, including rebounds (second, 5,078), steals (third, 1,059) and points (fifth, 10,067).