The Wollongong NRE Hawks are rallying around home-grown star Tyson Demos after the sudden death of his dad Kon this week.
Mr Demos, 54, died after collapsing at work on Monday afternoon.
The "larger than life" builder was well known in Wollongong for his passion for sport, having a stint in the national rugby league competition with the North Sydney Bears.
Wollongong Hawks chairman Peter Bahlmann yesterday said Mr Demos would be sorely missed.
"On behalf of Wollongong NRE Hawks and all Hawks members and fans, I want to express our deepest sympathies to Tyson Demos and all his family on the sudden loss this week of Tyson's father," Mr Bahlmann said.
"This is a tragic loss for Tyson and his family.
"We know his teammates, coaches and everyone involved with the Wollongong NRE Hawks will band together and provide support to Tyson at this sad and difficult time."
Mr Bahlmann also paid tribute to Mr Demos as a "great supporter of the Hawks and of basketball in this region".
"Through his construction company Metro, Kon was a long-time partner and sponsor of the Hawks.
"Kon loved and played our game and also served for a number of years on the board of the Illawarra Basketball Association," Mr Bahlmann said.
"He was, as they say, larger than life and we'll remember him."
Mr Demos had a passion for rugby league and the Illawarra.
A Collegians junior, he played first grade with Wollongong then the Western Suburbs Red Devils.
He was a member of the outstanding 1978 Illawarra Division team coached by former Great Britain international halfback Tommy Bishop, who was also Wests coach, and which won the Country Rugby League Championship that year.
When Bishop was appointed North Sydney coach the following year, Mr Demos joined him at the Bears for half a season before returning to Illawarra and Wests Devils.
Mr Demos also coached Illawarra junior representative sides.
He was a strong supporter of a number of Illawarra sports including boxing.
"Kon was a very passionate rugby league person but he was also a very passionate Illawarra person," Illawarra Steelers life member and director Bob Millward said yesterday.