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Tony Brown was always willing to take on new challenges.

There was no scholarship available to him when he was a student at Clark Atlanta University. He became one of the NBA's top referees after working his way up the basketball refs ladder. He was still trying to help others in his final days after being diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

His family said that Brown died Thursday. He was older than 50.

Adam Silver said that Tony Brown was one of the most accomplished referees in the NBA.

Brown was able to return to work in the NBA replay center last season after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. His family said he enteredHospice care in Atlanta.

Brown's family -- his wife, Tina Taylor-Brown and their children Bailey, Basile and Baylen -- said in a statement that they are and have been sustained by the consistent amount of love and support. We want you to join us in celebrating Tony's life. Our biggest thank you is to our village of family and friends. Your love is not limited to one person.

Brown worked a game in the 2020 NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. He was an official in the NBA for 20 years and worked championship-round games in the league.

He initially thought it was bad sushi that caused him to experience stomach pain. With the blessing of his medical team, the NBA and his family, Brown was able to return to work.

I haven't had time to think about what I'm going to do. Brown told the AP. I felt like I was letting people down if I didn't fight. If I laid in this bed and let it overtake me, what would I do to my children? If you have a positive mindset, you can challenge and overcome anything in life.

A talented high school basketball player, Brown accepted a scholarship to Florida A&M before transferring to Clark College. He worked his way through school as an employee of Delta Air Lines because there was no scholarship for him. He cleaned planes, drove passenger carts, became a flight attendant and retired from Delta in 2007.

His NBA career was peaking at the right time. After working the All-Star Game in Los Angeles, he was selected to work the 2021 game in Atlanta. The NBA committed to showcasing HBCUs and raising more than $3 million for scholarship funds while Brown was a referee, and he was one of three Atlanta residents who worked that game.

"For us, the most important thing is that we are representing the NBA officials and we have to do an outstanding job for them," Brown said before the game. We represent each other on that floor every night. That is the greatest accolade and accomplishment that we can ever have.

Brown's focus wasn't on himself in the last days of his life. In the days before his death, his family and friends worked hard to raise money for a scholarship for Clark Atlanta players. A group of Clark Atlanta players presented Brown with a jersey as a thank you for his work.

Attorney Mawuli Davis, one of the primary organizers of the scholarship effort, said the family is still chasing the $100,000 goal and hopes to present a check for that amount to Clark Atlanta at its men's basketball season opener in November.

Clark Atlanta basketball player Tony Brown embodies everything it means to be a Clark Atlanta basketball player. Hard work, determination, and perseverance are qualities that are hard to come by nowadays.

Brown was involved in a historic night in the NBA.

San Antonio coach Popovich was upset that no foul was called on a drive by DeMar DeRozan in a game against the Lakers. Popovich pointed to a Spurs assistant as his replacement after Brown ejected him.

The first woman to direct a team in NBA history happened with that.

Brown played in the NBA Finals for the first time that year. When he was told that he was one of the 12 referees picked for the title series, he immediately thought about how his family would react.

Brown said that he was speechless when he heard about it. The first thing that I had to sacrifice was my family. I was happy for my family more than any other thing.

The Lustgarten Foundation and PanCan were thanked by Brown's family for their support.

His family told him to keep trying for the cures.

The AP contributed.