Early life and business careerBorn in Salt Lake City, Buss was raised by his divorced mother, Jessie. His father, Lydus, was an accountant who went on to teach statistics at Berkeley. When he was nine years old, he moved with his mother to Los Angeles; they moved to Kemmerer, Wyoming, three years later when she remarried. Buss earned a scholarship to the University of Wyoming,Goldstein, Richard
Sports team ownershipBuss became an owner of the Los Angeles Strings (1974–1978), Los Angeles Strings in World Team Tennis. He purchased the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, NBA along with the Los Angeles Kings ice hockey, hockey team of the National Hockey League, NHL, The Forum (Inglewood), The Forum (all for a then-record combined $67.5 million for those three properties), and a large ranch from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979, in a deal that also transferred ownership of the Chrysler Building. Buss later sold his controlling interest in the Kings to Bruce McNall in 1988 (who made headlines that year by trading for Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers), retaining ownership of the Lakers and The Forum. He then reached a major advertising agreement with Great Western Bank for the naming rights to The Forum, resulting in the official name of the building being changed to the Great Western Forum. Later, when the Women's National Basketball Association, WNBA was formed in 1996, Buss took charge of operating that league's Los Angeles franchise, the Los Angeles Sparks. Eventually, all three teams moved into a more modern arena in downtown Los Angeles, the Staples Center, which opened in 1999. As part of the deal to move the Lakers into Staples Center, Buss sold the Great Western Forum (which was later reverted to its original name). The Lakers were very successful under Buss' ownership, winning ten NBA championships with such players as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and with coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. He inspired the Lakers' Showtime (basketball), Showtime era with his vision that basketball games must be entertaining. The Sparks also experienced their share of success, winning two WNBA championships with such players as Lisa Leslie, Tamecka Dixon and DeLisha Milton-Jones. In 2002, when the WNBA was restructured to give its teams individual owners, Buss took ownership of the Sparks. He sold the team in 2006. Buss also owned the Los Angeles Lazers of the Major Soccer League, Major Indoor Soccer League. The Lazers also played in The Forum. The team folded in 1989 and the league folded three years later. His contributions to basketball were recognized by his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Buss received the Golden Plate Award of the Academy of Achievement, American Academy of Achievement in 1983.
Poker playerBuss was a high-stakes cash game poker player for many years, but later in life was more active in tournament games. His best finishes included third in the 1991 World Series of Poker seven-card stud event and second place in the 2003 World Poker Tour Freeroll invitational. He also appeared in the Game Show Network, GSN series ''High Stakes Poker'' and the NBC late-night series ''Poker After Dark''.
PhilanthropyIn January 2008, Buss donated $7.5 million to USC's Department of Chemistry to fund two endowed chairs and an endowed scholarship fund for chemistry graduate students; the two chairs were to be named after his mentors at USC, Professors Sidney Benson and David Dows. Buss was an inaugural member of the USC College Board of Councilors. His philanthropy also extended to people associated with the Lakers. When former Lakers player Walt Hazzard, then an adviser to the team, suffered a catastrophic stroke in 1996, Buss kept Hazzard on the payroll and told Hazzard's son that his father would remain a Lakers employee for as long as Buss owned the team. When Hazzard died in 2011, he was still a Lakers employee.
Personal lifeBuss' marriage to the former JoAnn Mueller ended in divorce in 1972 after having four children: Johnny Buss, Johnny (b. 1957), Jim Buss, Jim (b. 1959), Jeanie Buss, Jeanie (b. 1961) and Janie (b. 1964).Los Angeles Times: "All in the Family - If Jerry Buss has his way, the Lakers will belong to his kids" by John Ireland
DeathIn 2012, Buss was in a hospital for months with an undisclosed intestinal problem. Through his 80th birthday on January 27, 2013, he had not attended a Lakers game during the 2012–13 Los Angeles Lakers season, 2012–13 season due to health concerns. On February 14, 2013, four days before his death, it was revealed that Buss had been battling cancer since 2012. After being hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with an undisclosed form of cancer, he died of kidney failure at 5:55 a.m. on February 18, 2013, aged 80. On February 21, hundreds of friends, colleagues, and family members gathered to pay tribute to Buss in a televised memorial service at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, across from the Lakers' home court, Staples Center. Buss was buried on February 22 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) in a private ceremony with family and close friends. NBA commissioner David Stern said of Buss "The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come". Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said "His impact is felt worldwide," and called Buss “the greatest owner in sports ever.” Buss' 66% controlling ownership of the Lakers passed to his six children via a trust, with each child receiving an equal vote (11% for each child). His succession plan had daughter Jeanie Buss, Jeanie assume his previous title as the Lakers' governor as well as its team representative at NBA Board of Governors meetings. His daughter would later take over the Lakers on March 27, 2017. The 2013 World Series of Poker held The $2,500 Seven Card Stud tournament in his memory and drew 246 entrants.Pincus, Eric