Cotton Nash, a legendary basketball player for the Kentucky Wildcats who later became one of the few men to play in both the NBA and MLB, died Tuesday. He was 80.
Kentucky.com reports that Nash has been dealing with “significant” health issues since Thanksgiving.
A 6-5 forward, Nash earned first- or second-team All-American honors all three seasons at Kentucky, averaging 22.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. He left as the school’s all-time leading scorer in 1964.
Cotton Nash, a renaissance man and Wildcat legend 💙 pic.twitter.com/IYv8TFcBAB
— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) May 23, 2023
Drafted 12th overall in 1964 by the Los Angeles Lakers, Nash played three seasons in the NBA. In two seasons with the Kentucky Colonels in the American Basketball Association, he averaged 5.6 points per game in his pro career.
After leaving the NBA, he also pursued his interest in baseball, making it to the majors for limited action with the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins from 1967 to 1970. He is among only 13 players in history in the NBA and MLB.
“I’m on a very short list of guys,” Nash said in 2020 (via Kentucky.com). “And I’m grateful for that unique experience.”
Kentucky basketball fans and the sports world shared their memories and well-wishes for Nash’s family. Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari noted, “Sad day for all in #BBN, losing UK great Cotton Nash.”
Sad day for all in #BBN, losing UK great Cotton Nash. A three-time All-American who not only succeeded on the court, but the baseball diamond, as well.
Prayers to his family and friends! https://t.co/rcXjhhGdu7
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 23, 2023
— LL COOL JON (@sensiblejon) May 23, 2023
First great @KentuckyMBB I saw in person 3X #AllAmerican Still #Top10ScoringList Played in both #NBA & #MLB Honored to have a friendship later in life No one threw a better Super Bowl Party Consummate Host. #RIP #CottonNash truly one of a kind pic.twitter.com/ZgKIjU8yyE
— Kenny Rice (@KennyRiceSports) May 23, 2023
R.I.P. to a UK Legend Cotton Nash 💙 pic.twitter.com/6exwnH1ojm
— Stacey Gallagher (@StaceyG1727) May 23, 2023
RIP Cotton Nash
— Wesley Eversole ☮️🟧 (@wesths05) May 23, 2023
He was my University of Kentucky Basketball.
— Barry Thornberry (@ThornberryBA) May 23, 2023
[Kentucky.com; Photo Credit: University of Kentucky]