Lacy J. Banks was an unconventional pioneer.

He was a trailblazer as the first African-American sportswriter for the Sun-Times, a job that led him to cover seven world championships involving Chicago teams.

He was a Baptist preacher for nearly 60 years, too, a side of himself he could uniquely intertwine into his career as a journalist.

And beginning in 2008 he became his own journalism subject, chronicling his health battles with prostate cancer, a brain tumor and heart disease in blogs he wrote for the Sun-Times.

He won his first two battles, but the last would conquer him. Banks, 68, died Wednesday.

Banks was the longest-serving sportswriter on the Sun-Times’ staff, joining the paper on Aug. 7,

1972, and remaining on staff until his death. For most of that time, he covered the Bulls and the NBA, ranking among the longest-tenured pro basketball writers in the country. His time on the beat spanned from the mid-1980s to last season, when he covered the Bulls into the NBA postseason.

– Reported by Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times