Two days after falling during a game for the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit Pistons G-League affiliate Zeke Upshaw died.
The Drive confirmed the 26-year-old’s death in a statement. “The Drive family mourns the tragic loss of Zeke Upshaw. He had a warm personality and was a great representative of our organization on and off the track. We are with Zeke’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
Upshaw’s mother, Jewel, said her son had died Monday morning despite the best efforts of hospital staff in Grand Rapids. “To family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans and confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this difficult time,” Jewel Upshaw said in the statement on Twitter.
Statement from the Drive: “The Drive family is mourning the tragic loss of Zeke Upshaw. He had a warm personality and was a great representative of our organization both on and off the field. Our thoughts are with all of Zeke’s family and friends during this difficult time.” pic.twitter.com/FxQtaJoqbG
— Grand Rapids Gold (@NBAGrandRapids) March 26, 2018
Upshaw passed out in the last 50 seconds of Saturday’s home game against the Long Island Nets. The NBA’s development league, the G-League, is what teams use to judge talented players.
Upshaw earned degrees in apparel, merchandising, and design from Illinois State and Hofstra, where he played college basketball. Before being acquired by the Drive in 2016, he played in Slovenia and Luxembourg after going unselected for the NBA Draft in 2014.
Zeke Upshaw dies at the age of 26 after collapsing on the field during a G League game
Zeke Upshaw, a forward with the Grand Rapids Drive, died early Monday morning after collapsing during the team’s G League game against the Long Island Nets on Saturday at DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 26.
The mother of Chicago resident Jewel Upshaw stated in The Drive:
“After continued efforts from the Spectrum Health medical team, Zeke transitioned at 11:16 a.m. Family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans and confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this most difficult time.”
That reports WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids, Upshaw suffered a heart attack on Saturday. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
While playing high school basketball for the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Upshaw became known.
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On Monday, Troy Caldwell discussed his influence with Peter J. Wallner of MLive.com. Troy Caldwell coached Upshaw while with the U-High Maroons.
“In addition to being the best basketball player I’ve ever had, he became the face of our basketball program and embraced it. He was a hard worker and very talented, and he always understood the work it took to become a talented basketball player.
“You don’t change the culture of a program in a locker room unless you have leaders, and he was our leader. He was very respected not only in the team, but also in the city for the way he played and behaved.”
Before transferring to Hofstra for his senior year, Upshaw played three seasons of football for Illinois State. He was not selected in 2014.
His professional career has included a job with the Drive, which he joined in 2016, the Helios Suns (Slovenia) and Basket Esch (Luxembourg).
Zeke Upshaw’s career and downfall
At the time of his sad death, Zeke was a member of the Grand Rapids Drive, an NBA franchise associated with the Detroit Pistons. The youngster entered the NBA draft in 2014, but was not selected.
Upshaw decided to play abroad after being passed over for the draft, and he signed a deal with the Helios Suns in Slovenia. Zeke spent a season with the team before moving to Luxembourg to play for a few years before coming home.
The 6-foot-6 big averaged 6.5 points in his first season at Grand Rapids Drive, mainly comes from the couch. In the second season, he played in 41 games and increased his score to 8.5 points per game.
Unfortunately, his last game for the Drive ended in tragedy. Upshaw contributed 11 points to his team’s victory over the Long Island Nets and progress to the playoffs. However, with only seconds left to play, he passed out on the floor.
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It was a tragedy when the gifted basketball player died of cardiac arrest two days later. Unfortunately, this was not the end as his family later sued several companies.
Basketball was where the young and promising athlete Zeke Upshaw lost his life. Although Upshaw had a prosperous professional career outside of the NBA, he spent his final season in what is now known as the NBA G League.
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