On Friday, May 22, 2020, former Chicago Bull and Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan passed away from complications due to Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia. He left this earth peacefully at his Salt Lake City home, surrounded by his family.
Born Gerald Eugene Sloan on March 28, 1942, to Janie (Rogers) and Charles Ralph Sloan, he grew up in McLeansboro, Illinois, located in rural southern Illinois. He attended McLeansboro High School, where he met his high school sweetheart, Bobbye Irvin, who he married in April of 1963, and had three children, Kathy, Brian and Holly. The two remained married until her passing in 2004. He graduated from the University of Evansville where he was a member of the 1964 and 1965 NCAA Division II National Basketball Championship team. He was later drafted by The Baltimore Bullets of the National Basketball Association, where he played his rookie season, until he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the 1966 expansion draft and remained a member of the team until 1976.
In 1978 Jerry became an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls, and became head coach in 1979 until 1982. After relocating to his hometown of McLeansboro, he became an assistant with the Utah Jazz in 1984, only to become head coach of the team in December of 1988. After holding one of the longest coaching tenures in professional sports and becoming a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, he retired from basketball in 2011.
Aside from his accomplishments in basketball, Jerry was also a well-known antique enthusiast. He developed a love for collecting anything from cash registers to John Deere tractors. When people say, ”One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” that man was Jerry. He loved spending his off season working on his farm and reconnecting each summer with the people of Hamilton County and southern Illinois. In 2005 he met Tammy Jessop and the two were married in 2006. As an avid walker, he took daily walks around Dolan’s Lake while in McLeansboro, and while in Salt Lake City, he walked many miles along the Jordan River with their beloved dog Max. Jerry was a generous man who never forgot where he came from and donated time and resources to many charitable organizations and individuals in need.
Known for his incredible intensity and work ethic, Jerry put 100% effort into everything he did. In return, countless others were inspired to do the same. He always believed that no matter who you were or where you came from, you could succeed in anything with a little “elbow grease” and determination. To him, a day working hard was a day hardly wasted. He played his game of basketball like he lived his life, and he lived his life like his favorite quote from Grantland Rice: “For when the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he writes not that you won or lost, but how you played your game.”
Jerry is survived by his wife Tammy, his children Kathy (Todd) Wood, Brian (Leslie) Sloan, Holly (Tim) Parrish, stepson Rhett Jessop, and sister Hattie Sloan. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews, who he loved dearly. He was preceded in death by his first wife Bobbye, brothers John, Dwight, Jimmy, Charles Ralph (Buck), Roger, and sisters June, Shirley, and Geneva.
A private celebration of his life will be determined at a later date. Donations can be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in Jerry Sloan’s name.
Life Story Info
“In lieu of flowers...”https://www.michaeljfox.org/
Jerry Sloan, was one of the real people in the professional athletic world, he would take the time to chat and have a soft drink or cup of coffee with a perfect stranger, I met Jerry by chance one day at a auto dealership and share a a few a cup and smoke with him in those older days. I was so impressed that he thought of himself as a regular person who had been blessed with some special talents.
Jerry and I were friends. We grew up together in place called Gobblers Nob, south and west of McLeansboro. We went to grade school together where I taught him to do layups when he wasn't much bigger than the basketball. He was a fast learner and I wasn't surprised at his level of achievement. I will miss him.
I'm so grateful for the opportunities I had to meet with, and speak with, Coach Sloan. He made me feel welcome immediately. He was very gracious and kind. I loved his competitive spirit and fire. Yet he was also humble and down home. A true gentle giant. Rest in Peace Coach Sloan. You will be missed
Coach it seems like yesterday that you were holding up the candy machine next to the Bar at the Room At The Bottom in the Salt Lake Hilton. Those were great days, we looked forward to closing the place down, so that we could spend time listening to you, Phil, TC, Coach Motta, Boller, Hots, etc, talk about the NBA. It Really was fantastic!! Thanks for being so kind to Sharon and I. You were a tremendous influence for me and so many others! A true salt of the earth Man "with a barb wire tail!" You will be missed Coach - RIP!
I am a die hard Jazz fan. Grew up and remember when coach Sloan took over for Layden. Utah loved Coach. Coach became a part of Utah. We Will always remember the Jerrisms, I live the take the lunch pail and go to work. Thank you Coach for teaching a young kid you never met you need to work hard to get anywhere type of attitude. Thank you for the great memories. The greatest coach in franchise history. You put the Utah Jazz on the map. Utah will always be grateful. RIP COACH SLOAN. You will forever be missed, but never forgotten.
I felt I had lost a friend when I learned of Jerry's passing. My husband and I followed his career from the time he stepped on the Court at Evansville through his time with the Bulls and the Jazz. The 3 games with SIU were the best games we were privileged to see him play. We delighted when UE played an unsuspecting team when Jerry would throw the basketball the length of the floor for a layup from a team member. Sympathy is extended to the family.