“The Aggies have lost a dear member of Aggie Basketball history and a part of our Aggie family,” NM State Athletics Director McKinley Boston said. “We ask all Aggies to say a prayer or take a moment of silence to remember Sam.”
“Sam Lacey is one of the greatest players of my time at NMSU and that goes back a long time," NMSU President Garrey Carruthers said. " He was a gentle giant who still raised his hand and had a sheepish grin when he fouled, although the rule had been changed to not requiring raising the hand. Sam was a great player, very nice person, and a consummate professional”.
Lacey is considered the most dominant rebounding big man to ever play for the New Mexico State men’s basketball program. Lacey, who helped lead the Aggies to their first and only Final Four appearance in 1970, was named a first team All-American by Basketball News that same season. As a senior, Lacey also was named to the Midwest Regional All-Tournament team at the NCAA Tournament.
In the NBA, Lacey was a 13-year veteran and played in the 1975 NBA All-Star game. From 1972-81, Lacey played for the NBA franchise the Kansas City Kings, while beginning his career with the Cincinnati Royals and had brief stops late in his career with New Jersey and Cleveland. Lacey had career NBA averages of 10.3-points, 9.7-rebounds, 3.7-assists, 1.5-blocks and 1.3-steals per game.
In 2008, Lacey was inducted into the NM State Ring of Honor. He still holds many school single-season and career rebounding records.
The family has established a memorial fund at GoFundMe.com to help defray funeral expenses.