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Bill Walton was loved in Colorado, and "loved Boulder so much"

Remembering Bill Walton: Go Behind the Story on CBS Colorado's report on death of a bball legend
Remembering Bill Walton: Go Behind the Story on CBS Colorado's report on death of a bball legend 09:20

You might have known the late Bill Walton for his commentary on late-night Pac-12 basketball games. You might have known him for his on-court exploits as a UCLA Bruin, a Portland Trail Blazer or a Boston Celtic. But Jay Elowsky, owner of Pasta Jay's in Colorado, knew Walton -- who died on Monday -- as a family man above all.

"When we'd get together, 90% of our conversation was about family," Elowsky said at his Boulder restaurant on Monday. "And he loved his wife so much he was still in love with his wife Lauri."

The two met years ago, and the basketball Hall of Famer made a point to consistently come by and eat with Elowsky when work brought him to Boulder.

"Very fast, quick on his feet, always knew what to say," said Elowsky. "He was a very special individual."

Walton's love for the Pac-12 Conference was infectious on every television broadcast. His style was polarizing, often veering into topics far removed from the game in front of him. But in his own way, he became synonymous with the late-night chaos that came to be known as Pac-12 After Dark. As something of an all-father of the conference, he seemed to love all his 12 children. But Boulder and the Colorado Buffaloes always seemed to hold a special place in his heart.

"He's loved in Boulder so much because he loved Boulder so much," said former Colorado player Evan Battey. "So the love was always reciprocated. I'm just sad to see him go."

Battey recalled meeting Walton for the first time when he was 8 or 9 years old. The two crossed paths during Battey's distinguished career at CU and the two got to play on the famed Buffs basketball ping pong table.

"It was a special moment for me and him to just bond and be together," Battey says with a laugh.

According to members of the Buffaloes program, Walton holds a special place in the ping pong pantheon.

Bill Walton plays ping pong with Evan Battey   Courtesy / Evan Battey

"He enjoyed to play ping pong against (Colorado Director of Operations) Bill Cartun whenever he was in town and was given the honor of signing our table at the events center," CU assistant coach Zach Ruebesam explained in a text message. "An honor only given to those that beat Bill Cartun head to head. Bill Walton never beat BC but got to sign the table anyway because he's Bill Walton."

"Each time you spoke to him, he made you feel like you were the most important person on earth," Ruebesam adds. "We always looked forward to seeing Bill and he will be missed by everyone in the CU basketball program.

Even with our CBS Colorado team, memories of Walton are often filled with cheer and an appreciation for his friendliness.

"Once the game ended and they did their postgame he turned the chair around and I would say there was a line of people from the floor of the events center to the concourse waiting to get a picture with him. And my son was one of them," CBS Colorado Managing Editor of Sports Eric Christensen said.

Walton's life was punctuated by a love of basketball, the places it brought him and the people who crossed his path.

"He was very personable and very gracious," Elowsky said. "He treated everyone around him like they were Bill Walton."

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