Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of prominent evangelical preacher Billy Graham, has revealed that her husband, Danny Lotz, "moved to our Father's House" Wednesday afternoon after being found unresponsive in the family's swimming pool on Monday.
At the time of his death, the 78-year-old former UNC basketball player was being treated at Rex Hospital, associated with the University of North Carolina, Raleigh. In a statement, the hospital said that Lotz's heart stopped while he was swimming in the family pool. On arrival, emergency medical personnel restarted his heart and he was admitted to the intensive care unit.
"Since then, a team of compassionate medical professionals at Rex's ICU has worked tirelessly to restore Dr. Lotz's body. Every possible attempt was made, but his doctors determined this morning nothing more could be done and it was time to cease life-supportive measures," the hospital said in a statement released on Thursday.
According to a tribute to Lotz posted on www.annegrahamlotz.org Wednesday evening, Lotz developed a severe case of Adult 1 diabetes at the age of 50. Over the last decade, he bravely "fought the ravages of the disease," including losing sight in one eye and hearing in one ear, earning him the nickname "God's Gladiator".
"[H]e never complained, never slowed down, never gave up, never stopped investing in the lives of others," the tribute reads. "As a New Yorker he was plain spoken. As a German he was stubborn. As a Christian he was a compassionate servant leader. He was more than a man's man. He was God's man who triumphantly finished his race having fought the good fight, and having kept his faith firmly focused on the kingdom of God first."
The tribute concludes, "He moved to our Father's House on August 19, 2015 and received the accolade of his Savior, Lord, and King who presented him with the Crown of Righteousness. We salute you, Danny Lotz. And we will never forget you."
Danny and Anne Lotz were married for forty-nine years and have three adult children together.
Lotz worked as a dentist in North Carolina and reportedly led a Bible study every Friday which was attended by 80-100 men in Raleigh.
He is also considered a "living legend" in North Carolina, as he played on the famed 1957 UNC basketball team that won a national championship. In February, he was honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award by the North Carolina governor, a prestigious award granted to citizens for extraordinary service to the state and local community.
On Thursday, Regional director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Johnny Evans remembered Danny Lotz as a close friend and role model. He credited Billy Graham's son-in-law for bringing the Christian organization for young athletes to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
"[He was] a leader of the leaders. He had an uncanny relational ability to make whoever was in front of him feel like they were the most important person in the world," said Evans.
Executive director for the Raleigh Baptist Association, Dr. Roger Nix knew Danny Lotz for more than 30 years and pastored the church where Danny Lotz led countless Bible studies.
"Though he is very physically imposing, being the basketball player he was and having all that heritage at Carolina, he never sought that kind of limelight," said Nix, WRAL reports. "He was truly as the scripture says, he was a humble servant."
He continued, "There's probably not a laymen in the city of Raleigh, or Triangle area, that had a deeper passion for discipling men and probably literally thousands of men over the years."