Zeke Upshaw, former Chicago prep hoops star, dies after collapsing during game

SHARE Zeke Upshaw, former Chicago prep hoops star, dies after collapsing during game
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Zeke Upshaw (center) sits with teammates at Illinois State in October 2010. | Lori Ann Cook-Neisler/AP Photo-The Pantagraph

Zeke Upshaw, a former Chicago high school basketball star, died Monday after collapsing on the court while playing a game Saturday with the G League’s Grand Rapids Drive. He was 26.

‘‘After continued efforts from the medical team at Spectrum Health, Zeke made his transition at 11:16 a.m.,’’ Upshaw’s mother, Jewel, announced in a statement through the team. ‘‘To family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans and confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this most difficult time.’’

Upshaw, a 6-6 swingman, was playing against the Long Island Nets in the fourth quarter Saturday when he collapsed. He was taken off the court on a stretcher and rushed to Spectrum Health Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. WOOD-TV reported that night that Upshaw was in cardiac arrest.

The Drive didn’t release an official cause of his collapse and death. He had scored 11 points in 29 minutes before collapsing.

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‘‘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.’’

Upshaw grew up in Chicago and starred at U-High, then played three seasons at Illinois State. He transferred to Hofstra to finish his college eligibility and led the Pride by averaging 19.8 points and 4.2 assists as a senior.

After his college career, Upshaw played overseas in Slovenia and Luxembourg. He joined the G League in 2016 after being selected by the Drive, an affiliate of the NBA’s Pistons.

Troy Caldwell, Upshaw’s former high school coach, called him a ‘‘historic figure’’ in Chicago for his performance as a player and involvement in the community, according to the website MLive.

Top stars from around the NBA, including Dwyane Wade, Karl-Anthony Towns and Isaiah Thomas, offered their thoughts and well wishes to Upshaw’s family on Twitter.

Follow me on Twitter @SatchelPrice.

Email: sprice@suntimes.com


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