An NBA legend of sorts, Ronald E. Culp, 75, of Medina, died on June 9, 2021 from cardiac arrest while recovering from back surgery.
He began his career at Baldwin-Wallace College before joining the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1970-74 as their original athletic trainer. He went on to serve as the head trainer for Portland Trailblazers from 1974-87 where he was a member of the 1977-78 Championship team.
In 1988, he was invited to help launch another NBA expansion team, the Miami Heat, where he helped bring home 3 NBA Championships and served as head trainer and travel coordinator for 20 years (1988-2008) until his retirement. The Heat Training Room was named in his honor after his retirement, and his retirement banner hangs in the rafters of the FTX Arena.
Ron was only the second trainer in NBA history to work 30 seasons—and he went on to tally total of 37. He remains the all-time leader in years of professional basketball service. He was a 3-time Chairman and founding member of the NBA Athletic Trainers Association and was named Trainer of the Year in 1986-87, 1995-96, and 2005-06.
One of his favorite memories was being a trainer for the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team and winning the gold medal in Atlanta. He was head trainer for the 1994 and 1998 Team USA in the World Championship of Basketball and for the NBA All-Star games in ’78, ’86, ’90, and 2005.
After a short retirement in Bend, Oregon, her returned to Miami and the Heat as their official Senior Director of Stuff, where he worked on special projects, including speaking at high schools and colleges about his profession and honoring veterans at home games.
Ron grew up in Brook Park, OH and was a Midpark High School graduate. In 2008, he was inducted to its Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. He earned his BS and MA degrees from Bowling Green State and his MS from Case Western Reserve. In addition to sports medicine, basketball, and his family, Ron loved playing practical jokes, the color red, electric model trains, huge dogs, diet coke, and books on U.S. history.
Ron moved back home to Ohio 2018, settling in Medina County near the family of his beloved wife of 37 yeas who preceded him in death, Marilyn Culp. He was soon joined in Ohio by his youngest daughter, Elizabeth. His older daughter, Amanda, her husband, Kevin, and Ron’s cherished only granddaughter, Emersen, reside in Fairbanks, Alaska.
While in Medina, Ron would take his two Great Pyrenees dogs to visit nursing homes and schools where they were favorites of the residents and students. He was an enthusiastic volunteer at the Brunswick Area Historical Society and was a center of attention when he brought the dogs along. Each morning, Ron would head to Donut Land for his morning coffee, bringing along his dogs who git a plain donut each.
Although the timing of his death came as a surprise to many, the family is grateful that he didn’t suffer, that a quick exit is what he would have wanted, and that he is together again with his beloved Marilyn.
A Celebration of Life is planned at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 929 Pearl Road, Brunswick, OH at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2021. See link for livestream below.
His daughters ask that condolences be sent to the Miami Heat c/o Andy Elisburg, FTX Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL, 33132, or via email at email@example.com. The team will collect them and forward them on to the family.
If you are moved to make a donation in his honor, please visit buckeyemissionsanctuary.org who are fostering Ron’s dogs until they find another forever home, or worldwildlifefund.org or humanesociety.org, where Ron was a member for many years, or finally, to the Brunswick Area Historical Society at P.O. Box 714. Brunswick, OH 44212, where Ron ran the popcorn stand at the Farmer’s Market until his passing.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ronald E. Culp, please visit our floral store.