PORTLAND - Former Portland Trail Blazer LeRoy Ellis died Saturday in Portland after a long battle with cancer. He was 72 years old.

LeRoy Ellis was a very important member of the first Trail Blazers team and was a very high-class individual, Trail Blazers Founder Harry Glickman said in a statement Saturday. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family.

Ellis was a member of Portland's inaugural basketball team, selected in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft. He led the team in rebounds per game and was third in scoring in 1970-71. That was his only season with the Trail Blazers.

He played in the NBA for 14 seasons in Los Angeles, Portland, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Ellis and and his family moved to Portland while he was in the NBA and stayed in the area after he retired, according to Trail Blazers spokesman Jim Taylor.

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