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Rick Bonnell, a longtime Charlotte Hornets beat writer for the Observer who covered the franchise since 1988, died Tuesday. He was 63.

According to a report, Bonnell was found unresponsive at his home yesterday evening by a family member. Outside of covering the NBA for the past three decades, he was a revered sportswriter who filled-in for other major events in the Carolinas over the years.

The NBA league office issued a statement on Bonnell’s passing saying, “The NBA family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Rick Bonnell, a devoted NBA reporter who began covering the Charlotte Hornets in their inaugural season more than 30 years ago.”

“He was an outstanding journalist who brought incredible enthusiasm to his job as a trusted expert on Hornets basketball and the NBA. A former president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Rick was among the most respected storytellers in the industry. We extend our sincere condolences to Rick’s family, friends and colleagues.”

Many of Bonnell’s colleagues paid tribute to him on social media Wednesday, including some of WFNZ’s own.

Rest peacefully, Rick.