This was a tough week on the area sports scene with two tragic deaths, Armen Gilliam and Pat Boland.
In a three-year stint as Penn State Altoona men's basketball coach, from 2002-05, Gilliam was not successful in terms of wins and losses, going 18-60.
And yet, most who interacted with Gilliam came away struck by his uniqueness.
Gilliam experienced a long NBA career, but he was more than a player. He was an avid reader who volunteered to write guest columns for the Mirror on the value of teamwork. He was an approachable, friendly sort who liked to play chess and racquetball.
Gilliam, 47, died suddenly on Tuesday while playing pickup basketball in Pittsburgh.
Since leaving Altoona, he was a player-coach for the Pittsburgh Xplosion of the American Basketball Association, conducted youth clinics and regularly played at various clubs in Pittsburgh.
He is survived by two young sons.
Not only was Gilliam remembered for his playing days at UNLV and the NBA, but Altoona fans can recall a raw prospect on a Bethel Park team that the Mountain Lions beat during their magical run to the 1981 PIAA western final.
Boland, a highly-respected radio broadcaster in State College for 20 years, succumbed to a battle with brain cancer, also on Tuesday.
He was just 42.
Boland was equally adept at handling news and sports and hosted a call-in show following Nittany Lion football games. Many of you surely heard his work while inching your way out of Beaver Stadium.
A native of Central City, Boland always asked smart questions and brought thoughtful answers from Joe Paterno. He was objective and critical without having a sledgehammer.
He was a champion of Penn State's non-revenue sports and - not that basketball is non-revenue - he brought levity by organizing an attendance pool at Nittany Lion home games.
He also did his share of high school play-by-play in Centre County.
Boland was buried Saturday morning in State College. Following the viewing Friday night, members of the PSU beat and university officials, Tim Curley included, gathered downtown to toast Boland.
He was a good guy who leaves us far too soon.
Then there was the horrible death of the Texas Rangers' fan, Shannon Stone, who died after falling out of the stands trying to catch a ball flipped to him by outfielder Josh Hamilton. Worse, Stone's 6-year-old son, Cooper, witnessed the whole thing.
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com.