Armen Gilliam (Armen Louis Gilliam)

Armen Gilliam

Armen Gilliam began his college basketball career in 1982–83 at Independence Junior College in Independence, Kansas. That year, Gilliam was a standout player on the basketball team that reached the Junior College Finals and finished 6th in the nation. Gilliam averaged 24.9 points and 14 rebounds in five tournament games and was named to the National Junior college finals all-tournament team. Armen Gilliam continued his college basketball career with UNLV. Gilliam played for UNLV from 1984 to 1987 and was an integral part of a team that was 93-11 in the 3 years he played for the UNLV Rebels. The UNLV team was ranked number one in the country for most of the three years Gilliam competed and the team made it to the NCAA tournament every year during his stay. In 1987 the team reached the “Final Four and Gilliam was named to the NCAA Final Four all-tournament team. Gilliam scored 998 points in his senior year which was and still is a school record for the most points scored in season by a UNLV player. Gilliam also played on the U.N.L.V team that won 38 games in a season which is still a N.C.A.A. Division 1 record for most wins in a season. In 1987 Gilliam was selected for a number of All-American Teams and voted the top contender for the John Wooden award. While at UNLV, teammate Frank James gave him the nickname “The Hammer” after seeing Gilliam’s biceps combined with his pounding action under the basket. Gilliam said, “He knew I was from a steel town, too. I think that was a factor.” The Los Angeles Times dismissed the notion that he got the name from a baking powder, Arm & Hammer.

Armen Gilliam was selected to play on the 1986 USA Basketball Team. This team fielded college stand outs likes: David Robinson, Kenny Smith, Tommy Amaker, Tom Hammonds, Charles D. Smith and Derrick McKey. The 1986 USA basketball team, led by head coach Lute Olson of Arizona, proceeded to shock the world with its play. The international community did not consider the team a medal-contender, but they advanced to the championship game and competed against the heavily favored Russians for the gold medal. Overcoming great odds, they won the 1986 World Championships and left Madrid Spain with golden memories. After graduating from UNLV with a degree in communications, Gilliam was the second pick in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft. As a rookie Gilliam was named to the all-rookie team (first team) in 1988 while playing for the Phoenix Suns. He went on to play 13 years in the NBA. Gilliam averaged 20 points and 9 rebounds for the Charlotte Hornets, played three years with the Philadelphia 76ers, and played three years with the New Jersey Nets, where he averaged between 12 to 18 points and 6 to 9 rebounds a game.

In 2001 Armen Gilliam was named head coach of Penn State McKeesport’s men’s basketball team, which played at the junior college level. In his first year as a head coach, he helped lead the team to a regular season record of 12-7. The team played well in the playoffs and reached the conference finals. The next year Gilliam accepted the Head Men’s coaching position at Penn State Altoona, where he coached from 2002 to 2005. He had a couple of unsuccessful seasons as their head coach. Gilliam came out of retirement in 2005 and was a player/coach for the Pittsburgh Xplosion of the ABA. Gilliam played and coached the Xplosion which finished in the top 6 out of the 48 teams in the A.B.A. Gilliam averaged 23.8 points a game and 9.1 rebounds and earned a spot on the Eastern conference all-star roster. Gilliam was named the all-star game MVP for 2006 after scoring 32 points and grabbing 15 rebounds at the BankAtlantic Center in Florida. Armen Gilliam collapsed during a basketball game at the LA Fitness gym in the Pittsburgh suburb of Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, on the evening of July 5, 2011. He was rushed to St. Clair Hospital, in nearby Mt. Lebanon, where he was pronounced dead of a heart attack.[6] He is survived by his three children, Jeremiah Gilliam, Joshua Gilliam and Cheryl Gilliam.

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  • May, 28, 1964
  • USA
  • Bethel Park, Pennsylvania


  • July, 05, 2011
  • USA
  • Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Cause of Death

  • heart attack


  • Bethel Cemetery
  • Bethel Park, Pennsylvania
  • USA

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