An autopsy discovered that Grand Rapids Drive forward Zeke Upshaw suffered a “sudden cardiac death” after collapsing on the court March 24.
Upshaw, 26, stood on the court during the final minute of the Drive’s game against the Long Island Nets before falling to the floor. Upshaw was taken off the court on a stretcher and escorted to a local hospital before being pronounced dead two days later.
According to WOOD-TV, Kent County medical examiner Dr. Stephen Cohle observed “cardiac abnormalities” in Upshaw, whose heart, Cohle said, was “slightly enlarged.” Further examination in the coming weeks will pinpoint the exact cause of Upshaw’s death.
Cohle said Upshaw also had a “slightly enlarged” heart, but he said that is not entirely unusual in athletic individuals. He added he’s not sure the slight enlargement had anything to do with why he died.
“There were some cardiac abnormalities that I hope to clarify by looking at the tissue slides,” Cohle said. “I’m going to try to characterize the exact type of heart disease microscopically.”
Statement from Jewel Upshaw, Zeke's mother: “After continued efforts from the medical team at Spectrum Health, Zeke made his transition at 11:16 am. To family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans & confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this most difficult time. pic.twitter.com/1AutFtIFwU
— Grand Rapids Drive (@grdrive) March 26, 2018
Upshaw, who played collegiately at Illinois State and Hofstra, began his professional career with two seasons in Europe. From there, he was selected by the Drive, the G League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons, in the the 2016 NBA Development League Draft. He was in his second season with the team.
“The NBA G League family is devastated by the tragic passing of Zeke Upshaw,” G League President Malcolm Turner said in a statement. “Zeke was an outstanding young man whose powerful belief in himself and uncommon perseverance led to a successful professional basketball career. A beloved member of the Grand Rapids Drive, Zeke’s continuous improvement and tireless work ethic were hallmarks of his career. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends and the Drive organization.”
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