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Bay Area stunned by sudden passing of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, dead at age 65

Mayor Lee was responsible for bringing his “legacy project” — the Chase Center — to the San Francisco waterfront.

Golden State Warriors Announce Plan To Move To San Francisco
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, with Warriors’ brass (out of frame), at May 22, 2012 press conference to announce plans for new sports and entertainment arena.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors, like the rest of the Bay Area, was stunned to learn this morning of the sudden passing of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

The team tweeted photos in celebratory tribute.

In an official statement published on the website, the Warriors stated:

We are stunned and saddened by the news of Mayor Ed Lee’s sudden death this morning. The lasting impact he leaves on the City of San Francisco is a timeless tribute to his incredible leadership and vision. His love and passion for sports, including the Warriors, defined him as much as his witty humor and engaging personality. We will be eternally grateful for his commitment to the building of Chase Center — once termed his “legacy project” as Mayor — and his dedication to making San Francisco one of the greatest cities in the world.

Lee and the City of San Francisco had targeted the then-unnamed Chase Center to open in time for the start of the 2017-18 NBA season. But resistance to the project, from factions on both sides of the Bay, led to delays.

Although Lee’s untimely death snatched away his opportunity to enjoy a Warriors’ tipoff at the new arena, he had the joyful experience of celebrating two recent NBA Championships with the Bay-area team, in 2015 and 2017.

Chase Center is now slated to welcome fans for the 2019-20 NBA season. In light of Lee’s passing, the Warriors’ inaugural game in the new arena will likely be a somewhat-solemn event, with heavy hearts and mixed feelings about the absence of the man who started it all.

Lee, San Francisco’s first Asian-American mayor, was also the engine behind the city’s tech boom: an industry into which several Warriors’ players — fueled by the leadership of Andre Iguodala — are making inroads in preparation for post-basketball careers.

Lee collapsed from an apparent heart attack while grocery shopping Monday night. He was transported by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died less than three hours later.

Lee’s influence as mayor of one of the most diverse cities in the world spreads far and wide. But, at the end (and start) of the day, he was a husband and father.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family — his wife Anita, daughters Brianna and Tania — during this difficult time,” the Warriors’ stated. “He will be deeply missed.”

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