Former NBA player Ernie Vandeweghe dies at 86
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ernie Vandeweghe, a New York Knicks player in the post-World War II era and father of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe and three other top athletes, has died. He was 86.
The death was confirmed Sunday night by Kiki Vandeweghe, who said his father died of natural causes at his home in Newport Beach.
Vandeweghe averaged 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 224 regular-season games for the Knicks from 1949-56. In college, he averaged 19.1 points in four seasons at Colgate.
“I am so lucky to have spent so many years with him learning and growing,” granddaughter CoCo Vandeweghe, a pro tennis player ranked 40th in the world, said in a Facebook post Saturday. “He is now in a better place with his beloved wife. He will be missed dearly. Love you Pal.”
Ernie Vandeweghe’s wife, Colleen, died in 2010. She won the 1952 Miss America pageant.
Born in Montreal, Vandeweghe went to medical school while in the NBA and was a physician in the U.S. Air Force. He was chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and served on the Olympic Sports Commission. He also was the Lakers’ team physician when the team moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis.
“He’s never really gone because the lessons are still there,” said Kiki Vandeweghe, who as a 5-year-old didn’t understand why his physician father would often be gone on weekends.
“He used to take care of the athletes and their kids. I found out he never charged any of those people. When you can afford to give back, you do.”
Kiki Vandeweghe played 13 seasons in the NBA and was a two-time All-Star who averaged 19.7 points for his career. Daughter Tauna won a U.S. swimming championship in the backstroke and competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Son Bruk was a beach volleyball player, and daughter Heather captained the U.S. women’s polo team. Coco is Tauna’s daughter.
Ernie Vandeweghe grew up on Long Island and played football, basketball and baseball at Oceanside High School.