As we march towards madness in college basketball, let us not forget it was 18 years ago today that Loyola Marymount's Hank Gathers collapsed and died of a heart-muscle disorder on the basketball court just after connecting on an alley-oop dunk. All he ever wanted was to play pro ball and he was a shoo-in lottery pick , leading the nation in scoring and rebounding his Junior year. His best friend Bo Kimble was his lifetime teammate, playing prep ball in philly and college ball at USC and LMU with Gathers.
I learned of his story by watching Final Shot: The Hang Gathers Story and later reading Bo Kimble's autobiographical tribute to Gathers "For You Hank". At the end of the book Bo revisits the shabby and bare playground where he first met Hank; he noticed a poem graffitied on a brick wall below the courts, which typified Hank's character. I've transcribed it below.
Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tip of a cloud of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.
-excerpt from Anonymous poem
And now for your viewing pleasure, checkout this tribute video. ** DISCLAIMER ** - slightly cheesy...