Former Ohio State basketball player and East High School legend Granville Waiters passes away at age 60

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Former NBA player Granville Waiters poses for a photo in 1996 before hosting a basketball camp for kids.

He was a star basketball player, a great teammate and a friend to seemingly all.

Now, Columbus and the East Side community are dealing with a 6-foot-11 void left by the passing of Granville Waiters, a standout at East High School who went on to play for Ohio State and then in the NBA. Word of Waiters' passing began to circulate on social media Monday evening, and The Dispatch confirmed the news Tuesday.

Waiters was 60. The cause of death is unknown.

A star at East, Waiters helped lead the program to the 1979 Class AAA state title, beating Clark Kellogg and Cleveland St. Joseph 74-65 in a game played at St. John Arena. Kellogg scored 51 points, but Waiters finished with 15 and the championship against his future collegiate teammate.

“GVille (what I called him most times) was a generous, gracious, kind man and friend,” Kellogg said in a text message. “Caring, fun, funny, handyman, likeable, pleasant. Blessed to have known and shared a segment of my life with him. He was a beloved friend and teammate to me and many others. Very saddened by his death.”

James “Satch” Sullinger, a longtime college and high school coach who had a stint at East in the 1980s, recalled Waiters as “a gentle giant.”

“Never seen him say a bad word to anybody about anybody. Never saw him in a bad mood,” Sullinger said. “Just a good guy, man. It’s hard to find a person of his physical stature that you never saw out of control, angry.”

Granville Waiters was the center for the East High School team that won the 1979 Class AAA state championship for coach Larry Walker, right.

As a four-year player for the Buckeyes, Waiters averaged 5.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in 104 games including 61 starts from 1980-83. As a senior and team captain, Waiters averaged 10.4 points and 7.5 rebounds.

He was a second-round pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1983 NBA draft and traded to Indiana before his rookie season in exchange for a second-round pick. Waiters averaged 3.2 points and 2.7 rebounds as a reserve for the Pacers before being traded to Houston in 1985. He played there for one season before spending two years with the Chicago Bulls before leaving the NBA following the 1987-88 season.

In 249 career NBA games, Waiters averaged 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds. He went on to play in Spain for two years before retiring. Most recently, Waiters ran a consulting company in Columbus and was active in the community.

“It’s truly a loss for the entire Buckeye and Columbus community,” former Ohio State player and close friend Scott Reeves said. “He was accomplished at every level, but his greatest wins were his contributions back to the community.”

According to Columbus Black History on Facebook, Waiters was on the board of directors at T.O.U.C.H. (Teaching Opportunity Unity by Connecting Hearts), described as “a mentoring program for the formerly incarcerated that provides a productive and positive life transformation by implementing the concept of ‘Reach Out and Touch.’ ”

“People knew him as Granville the basketball star but he was more than that to us,” said Annetta Michelle Rogers, who grew up with Waiters and also knew him as godfather to her niece. “He was family: a son, brother, uncle, and the best godfather. He loved his community and enjoyed giving back. He was gentle, kind and caring. People were amazed at his tall stature but his heart was even bigger.”

“It's a tremendous loss. We are devastated by his unexpected death. We are truly going to miss him.”

Waiters was known to spin tunes as a DJ and was most recently listed as the owner of Granny’s Child Care Center on Livingston Avenue.

“His nickname was ‘Granny,’ man,” Sullinger said. “Here’s this big man, and you called him ‘Granny.’ That was his demeanor. He just wanted to help everybody. He wanted to make someone’s day a better day.”