Paul Silas, a three-time NBA champion as a player and a long-time coach – including LeBron James' first coach as a professional – has died at the age of 79.

The family announced the death on Sunday via the Houston Rockets, who are coach by Silas' son Stephen.

"Our heartfelt thoughts are with Stephen and his family during this difficult time," the Rockets said in a statement.

Silas began his 16-year NBA career as a player with the St. Louis Hawks in 1964-65 and retired after the 1979-80 season with the Seattle SuperSonics.

He won titles with the Boston Celtics in 1973-74 and 1975-76, and with the SuperSonics in 1978-79.

A two-time All-Star known for his defense, Silas was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team twice and was a second-team All-Defensive selection three times.

He finished his career with averages of 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds and averaged a double-double in eight seasons.

After retiring as a player, he immediately moved into coaching, taking over the San Diego Clippers in 1980. He also served as the head coach for the Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats.

His first season with the Cavaliers in 2003-04 coincided with James' rookie season. His last season as a head coach came for the Bobcats in 2011-12, and he compiled a 387-488 record over his 12 seasons as a coach, reaching the playoffs four times.

His son Stephen is in his third season as the Rockets coach, and will not coach in Houston's scheduled game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.

''We mourn the passing of former NBA All-Star and head coach Paul Silas,'' NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

''Paul's lasting contributions to the game are seen through the many players and coaches he inspired, including his son, Rockets head coach Stephen Silas. We send our deepest condolences to Paul's family.''