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Tributes pour in for Steelers broadcaster Tunch Ilkin who died aged 63

Former Steelers and radio announcer Tunch Ilkin was pronounced dead on Saturday, September 4, 2021, after a long battle with ALS.

His wife Karen told Pittsburgh Sports that he was hospitalized on August 24 with pneumonia, which is among the leading causes of death for people with ALS.

Tunch Ilkin, 63, was a two-time Pro Bowl tackle and broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He died today at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital at 6.

Ilkin was diagnosed with ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease in October 2020.

ALS is nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.

He announced his retirement back in June of 2021, in order to focus on his treatment. He was fighting his disease with frequent chiropractor visits.

Read updates on Tunch Ilkin in our live blog below …

 

  • ‘A TRULY GREAT HUMAN BEING’

  • SEAN CASEY PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE ‘KINDEST SOUL’

    Sean Casey has paid his own tribute to Tunch Ilkin, saying he was the “kindest soul”.

    In a Twitter post he said: “Thank you for always being the kindest soul Tunch.

    “You touched so many of us with your love for people and the power of your faith. Rest In Peace Tunch Ilkin.

  • ‘A LEGEND’

    One fan wrote on Twitter: “He was a legend and will be missed.

    “And he’s leaving such a powerful legacy behind. Tunch Ilkin, a good man.”

  • STEELERS BROADASTER PRAISES ILKIN

    Bill Hillgrove, who worked alongside Ilkin as Steelers broadcaster, said that “Working with him was a dream.

    “He was insightful, he knew exactly what he was talking about, he did his homework. He was a pure pleasure to be around. Beyond that, as a person, he was concerned about other people more than himself. He always displayed that.”

  • WHEN WAS ILKIN INDUCTED INTO THE STEELERS’ HALL OF HONOR?

    In July, Ilkin was named to the Steelers’ Hall of Honor and was set to be inducted in a ceremony in November.

    “He was cut once or twice at least, but in true Tunch fashion, kept fighting, never gave up,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in July. “Then he followed that up with a Hall of Fame broadcast career, in my opinion. We’re so fortunate to have him as part of Steelers football for so many years.”

  • ‘THE WORLD HAS LOST A GREAT ONE’

  • ‘AT A LOSS FOR WORDS’

  • ‘RIP BIG GUY’

  • ALS ASSOCIATION PAYS TRIBUTE

    The ALS Association has joined with thousands of friends and fans paying tribute to

    It said in a Twitter message: “Today we mourn the passing of former @steelers offensive lineman Tunch Ilkin.

    “Our hearts go out to his family, friends and all of Steelers nation.”

  • ILKIN’S EARLY LIFE

    Tunç Ali İlkin was born in Istanbul, Turkey, on September 23, 1957.

    lkin’s parents Mehmet and Ayten Ilkin emigrated to the US when he was two years old and settled in the Chicago area.

    In 1975, he was granted an athletic scholarship to Indiana State University.

    He was chosen by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft.

     

  • ILKIN’S BROADCASTING CAREER

    Ilkin spent 23 seasons in all as part of Pittsburgh’s radio team and became well-known throughout southwestern Pennsylvania for his charitable efforts for a variety of causes.

    He worked with a variety of causes, including the Light of Life Rescue Mission, which focuses on helping those battling homelessness and addiction.

    Ilkin was a fixture at the team’s training facility during the season, filtering in and out of the locker room to talk to players. 

  • ILKIN’S NFL CAREER

    Ilkin was taken by Pittsburgh in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft and, after three seasons largely playing as a reserve, started 10 games for the Steelers in 1983 and thereafter became a pillar in the starting lineup through the 1992 season.

    Ilkin played from 1980 through 1993.

    He was a member of the Steelers roster for the first 12 seasons of his NFL career and played his final year with the Green Bay Packers.

  • WHAT IS ALS?

    ALS is a rare neurological condition that was named after baseball legend Lou Gehrig.

    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)  is an incurable fatal neuromuscular disease that affects voluntary muscles in the body.

    Progressive muscle weakness leads to paralysis and eventually death.

    The disease attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and motor neurons, which control the movement of voluntary muscles, deteriorate and cause stiffness, twitching, weakness and eventually leads to difficulties speaking, swallowing and breathing.

    Eventually, the condition causes paralysis and patients usually die from respiratory failure.

  • ‘WHAT A STEELER IS SUPPOSED TO BE’

  • FELLOW SPORTS ANCHORS FLOOD TWITTER WITH TRIBUTES

  • FANS SHARE THEIR MEETINGS WITH TUNCH ILKIN

  • ‘RIP TO A LEGEND’

  • WHO WAS TUNCH ILKIN?

    At 63-years-old, Ilkin was known as a former NFL player and broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    In 1980, Ilkin became the first NFL player of Turkish descent after being drafted by the Steelers as a sixth-round pick from Indiana State.

    For the next 13 seasons after being drafted, Ilkin stayed with the Steelers and ended his career being selected to the Steelers’ all-time team.

    Following his retirement in 1993, Ilkin then switched to broadcasting and joined Bill Hillgrove and Myron Cope in the booth.

  • COMMUNITY MEMBERS POST TRIBUTES TO TUNCH ILKIN

  • FANS POST PICTURES WITH TUNCH ILKIN IN TRIBUTES

  • FELLOW SPORTS ANCHORS SEND PRAYERS

  • TRIBUTES TO ILKIN HIGHLIGHT HIS WARMTH AND FRIENDLINESS

  • WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ALS?

    Some of the main symptoms of ALS are: Muscle weakness/ stiffness,
    Coordination/ balance issues, Fatigue, Difficulty speaking, Severe constipation, and Shortness of breath.

  • ‘EPITOME OF A GREAT HUMAN’

  • STEELERS BROADASTER PRAISES ILKIN

    Bill Hillgrove, who worked alongside Ilkin as Steelers broadcaster, said that “Working with him was a dream.

    “He was insightful, he knew exactly what he was talking about, he did his homework. He was a pure pleasure to be around. Beyond that, as a person, he was concerned about other people more than himself. He always displayed that.”



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