Jeremy Eaton, a former Gonzaga forward who starred on the Bulldogs’ 1999 Elite Eight team, has died after a battle with cancer, The Spokesman-Review learned Friday morning.
The 45-year-old Eaton died Thursday night more than a year after initially being diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, an inoperable form of rectal cancer. Eaton was admitted to the hospital last Saturday, according to former Gonzaga guard and teammate Mike Leasure.
As of January 2021, Eaton had been residing in Nampa, Idaho, and running a one-man fabrication shop. A GoFundMe page created for Eaton has raised more than $61,000 over the last 16 months.
Eaton underwent initial chemotherapy treatments in January 2021 and was told although his cancer could not be cured, doctors were optimistic it could be controlled and stopped from spreading further.
“The hard one was to sit down with my son, he’s 19,” Eaton told the S-R in January 2021. “That was tough. And calling my folks was tough. I kind of sandbagged with them until I was at home. I told them they were doing some testing because I didn’t want to tell them over the phone. It was a tough conversation.”
Eaton is survived by his son Sy, a former prep standout at Middleton High in Idaho who was planning to join the basketball team at Walla Walla Community College prior to his father’s diagnosis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sy Eaton penned a tribute to his late father on Instagram Thursday night, writing “To my best friend, I love you more than you can imagine. I’ve just wanted to make you proud and be like you. I love you dad. Fly high.”
Jeremy Eaton played at Walla Walla CC before transferring to Gonzaga, where he appeared in 62 games over two seasons, averaging 11.7 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Bulldogs’ 1998-99 team that made a Cinderella run through the 1999 NCAA Tournament, beating Minnesota and Stanford before clipping Florida 73-72 to earn a berth in the Elite Eight where GU eventually lost to Connecticut.