Former Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley is hospitalized in a Chicago-area hospital after recently suffering a stroke.

Heisley was stricken last weekend soon after returning home from Houston, where he attended the NBA All-Star game.

“The family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers,” Heisley’s wife, Agnes, said Saturday in a statement that requested respect for the family’s privacy.

Heisley, whose 76th birthday is March 13, has privately dealt with a few medical issues over the past several years. He underwent a heart procedure within the past two years. Even so, Heisley shed 80 pounds last summer and began a workout regimen that included three-mile walks.

Heisley was an often controversial yet always fit owner. Stability was never an issue with the franchise under Heisley. He is known for being a passionate, no-holds-barred personality who became a lightning rod for fans and an inspiration for Grizzlies players.

“I’m speechless. This really bothers me,” said All-Star forward Zach Randolph, who visited with Heisley in Houston. “He’s a good guy and a man of his word. He took care of us and believed in us. I’m praying for him.”