Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson, a noted philanthropist who was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame last year, died in 2009 at age 86.
Davidson also owned the WNBA's Detroit Shock and Palace Sports & Entertainment, comprising The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre.
Davidson was chairman and president of Guardian Industries Corp., a major manufacturer of glass products for the construction and automotive industries and fiberglass insulation products. He also was an honored philanthropist, giving away more than $80 million in the 1990s alone.
Spurned in his bids to buy the NFL's Detroit Lions and NHL's Detroit Red Wings, Davidson became majority owner of the Pistons in 1974 and acquired the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1999.
The Palace, located less than a half-mile from Guardian Industries headquarters, was built for $90 million — all of it Davidson's money — and won instant acclaim as a sports and entertainment venue when it opened in 1988.
Davidson sold the Lightning for $200 million in June 2008.
Davidson was born Dec. 5, 1922, in Detroit. He ran track at Michigan, played football in the Navy during World War II and was an inaugural inductee into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Davidson earned a law degree from Wayne State University in 1949. He practiced law for three years before taking over a wholesale drug company and rescuing it from bankruptcy. He did likewise with a surgical supply company and then with his family's Guardian Glass Co., Guardian Industries' predecessor.
Attorney who left law in 1957 to join uncle's glass manufacturing business. Public 1968, bought it back via leveraged buyout 17 years later. Today Guardian Industries is one of the largest industrial glassmakers in the world. Estimated sales: $5.5 billion. Company shifting focus from struggling U.S. economy to international markets; 90% of profits from foreign commerce.more » « less