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Former Hawks star Hudson dies

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Former St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks star guard-forward Lou Hudson died Friday. He was 69.

Hudson was hospitalized in Atlanta after having a stroke in March. He also suffered a stroke in 2005 and campaigned for the “Power to End Stroke” organization.

Hudson, who was nicknamed “Sweet Lou,” averaged 20.2 points per game during his 13-year NBA career. The six-time All-Star spent the first 11 years of his career with the Hawks and finished with the Los Angeles Lakers. He retired in 1979.

The Hawks retired Hudson’s No. 23 jersey. He is one of just three Hawks, joined by Bob Pettit and Dominique Wilkins, to receive that honor.

“Lou Hudson holds a special place in the Hawks family, in the hearts of our fans and in the history of our club,” co-owner Michael Gearon said in a statement. “As a fan growing up with this team, I’m fortunate to say I was able to see almost every game Sweet Lou played as a member of the Hawks.

“He was an integral part of successful Hawks teams for over a decade, and is deservedly recognized with the ultimate symbol of his significance to the franchise with the number 23 hanging inside Philips Arena.”

Hudson’s No. 14 was retired by the University of Minnesota.

St. Louis selected Hudson in the first round of the 1966 draft and was an NBA all-rookie team selection. He missed part of the next season while he served in the Army. He scored the first points for the team after moving to Atlanta in 1968.

The Greensboro, N.C., native is a member of the North Carolina, Georgia and Atlanta sports hall of fame. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1966, despite not playing football in college.