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UCLA Champion Kenny Heitz Dies at 65
Posted by Damian Kelly on Jul 13, 2012 - 12:52:51 PM

WESTWOOD—Three-time UCLA basketball champion and lawyer Kenny Heitz died on Monday, July 9 after a long battle with cancer.  He was 65 years old.


A UCLA news release indicates Heitz, who passed away at his home in Pacific Palisades, was a member of the UCLA basketball team that won three consecutive NCAA men’s basketball championships from 1966-1969.


After enrolling at UCLA in the fall of 1965, Heitz quickly became a part of history when he was a member of the UCLA freshman team that defeated the two-time defending NCAA champion UCLA varsity squad 75-60 in the first ever game played at Pauley Pavilion.  Some of Heitz’s freshman teammates were center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor at the time), guard Lucius Allen and forward Lynn Shackelford.


Kenny Heitz (22) during a game in 1969. Photo courtesy of UCLA
During his first two seasons on the varsity team (1966-67 and 1967-68), Heitz was  a starter and key reserve at forward and guard on teams that captured NCAA championships with records of 30-0 and 29-1, respectively. Heitz was a starting guard as a senior in 1968-69, as UCLA compiled a record of 29-1 and became the first school in history to win three consecutive NCAA titles. He earned Academic All-America honors that season. During his three-year career, UCLA won 88 of 90 games to go with the three national championships and conference crowns.


Heitz went on to graduate from UCLA in 1969 with a Bachelor’s degree, Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  Although he passed up on an opportunity to head to the pros, Heitz was a success in his career as a lawyer.


After graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, Heitz joined the Los Angeles law firm Irell & Manella where he became a Senior Partner specializing in commercial litigation and corporate law. Heitz was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2007-2012 in the specialty areas of commercial litigation and corporate law. Heitz was also selected to The International Who's Who Legal as an expert in corporate governance and selected to the 2009 edition of California's Who's Who Legal. Heitz was named to the Southern California "Super Lawyers" list by Los Angeles Magazine every year since 2006.


In a statement, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero commented on the passing of Heitz.


"The Bruin family mourns the passing of Kenny Heitz. He was an integral member of three NCAA championships teams, a starter for the freshman team that won the first game ever played in Pauley Pavilion and a model student-athlete. He was a success in his chosen profession and, most importantly, a loving husband and father. Kenny fought valiantly against his illness as long as he could. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Linda, their three daughters, and the entire Heitz family,” said Guerrero.


Heitz is survived by his wife Linda and their daughter Alex, his former wife Barbara and their daughters Jennifer and Joanna, two sons-in-law, John and Dan, and two granddaughters, Eva and Rachel, as well as his two Italian mastiffs. Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.


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