When Jerry Buss was growing up in the midst of the Depression in Wyoming, the only thing he could count on was a meal at the end of a bread line. He dug ditches, worked on the railroad and eventually got a doctorate in physical chemistry from USC.
While working as an aerospace engineer, Buss and a fellow worker invested in an apartment building in Santa Monica. Twenty years later, after riding Southern California's real estate booms, their empire was worth about $350 million.
Then in 1979, Buss pulled off the biggest transaction of his life, a $67.5-million deal with Jack Kent Cooke to buy the Lakers, the Kings hockey team, the Forum and a California ranch in exchange for the lease to New York's Chrysler Building and several other properties. In all, the deal involved nine pieces of property, 12 escrows in three states, and more than 50 lawyers and advisors.
Glory days, including the Lakers' version of "Showtime," followed, as did multiple NBA championships with such players as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Buss later sold the Los Angeles Kings and the Forum and has handed over the reins of the team to his children.
In 1985, Buss helped launch the Southern California sports cable channel Prime Ticket Network, which Rupert Murdoch bought in 1996 and which eventually became FSN West/Prime Ticket. Buss received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 for his role in starting the channel.
Buss died Feb. 18, 2013, of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 80.