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Ken Lien, who led the committee that selected the Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award winner for 40 years, died Jan. 27. Lien, who was living in Prior Lake, was 72.

Lien joined the Mr. Basketball committee in 1977, two years after the award was established by the Edina Basketball Association.

Minnesota's award is the fourth-oldest high school basketball player of the year award in the nation. Only Indiana Mr. Basketball (1939), California Mr. Basketball (1950) and Kentucky Mr. Basketball (1954) are older.

Lien left the committee in 2017 in the wake of remarks he made on social media that were criticized as being racist. In an open letter he referenced "my ill-advised posts on social media."

"As a figure who has tried always to shed a positive light on high school basketball in our state, and as a citizen of this great country, my actions were inexcusable," he wrote.

Lien, a native of Pine River, Minn., graduated from Bemidji State with a degree in education. He was a teacher at Starbuck and Prior Lake before going into sales and marketing.

After leaving teaching, Lien continued to coach youth basketball teams and work with summer programs.