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John Mack, Los Angeles Civic Leader and Former Urban League President, Dies at 81

John Mack, a Los Angeles civic leader and a longtime civil rights advocate, has died at 81.

John Mack is shown in South Los Angeles in 2012. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

John Mack is shown in South Los Angeles in 2012. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Mack was the former president of the Urban League and served on the Los Angeles Police Commission from 2005 to 2013. He was a prominent voice on police reform, and current LAPD officials credit him with shaping the department's policy.

He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Thursday night after a long battle with cancer, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing family and friends.

Steve Soboroff, Los Angeles Police Commissioner and a friend of Mack’s, confirmed the death on Twitter Friday morning.

Soboroff said Mack's passing was a "tremendous loss for Los Angeles, America and the world."

"He was my mentor," Soboroff said of the civic leader. "He was my go-to guy from day one."

In a statement, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Mack was an ally to many.

"John Mack’s wisdom, integrity, and kindness helped transform Los Angeles.  As a civil rights warrior, police commission president, and ally to all who love freedom and fairness, John made history with a fierce determination to pursue justice, an unshakable commitment to equality, and an unbreakable bond with the community he worked tirelessly to uplift every day of his remarkable life," Garcetti said in the statement.

"Like many throughout our city and world, I will forever find inspiration in his extraordinary ability to convene us around tables of understanding, humanity, and peace --- especially in uncertain moments and at times of great strife," the mayor said.

In a joint statement, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and incoming chief Michel Moore said Mack will be missed and never forgotten.

“Commissioner Mack was not only an outstanding commissioner, but an inspiration and personal mentor for thousands of police officers throughout the decades of his service to the community,” the statement reads. “His thoughtfulness, kindness, grace, and leadership have been instrumental in shaping the LAPD of today.”

Congresswoman Karen Bass, who represents areas of west and South Los Angeles, called Mack a “unifying” and “healing” force of the community.

She told KTLA that Mack was a friend and a mentor who “always brought a sense of calm,” especially during tense periods in the city.

Elected officials and political and cultural figures from across California and the U.S.offered remarks Friday on Mack and his legacy:

Earn “Magic” Johnson: "Cookie & I are deeply saddened by the loss of my mentor & good friend John Mack. When I was playing with the Lakers, he got me involved in politics & taught me the biggest impact I could make in America was to invest in inner cities and provide jobs for people who lived there.

Rev. Jesse Jackson: A Civil Rights giant and freedom fighter has passed away. Prayers for and condolences to the family of #JohnMack and the city of Los Angeles for which he worked so hard to make fair and just for all of its residents.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra: “John Mack was a rock for decency, opportunity and equality. His hands touched the lives of so many. John’s impact will ripple for generations.”

KTLA's Jennifer Thang contributed to this story.