Zeke Upshaw of the G League's Grand Rapids Drive died Monday, two days after he collapsed on the court near the end of a game and was rushed to a hospital. He was 26.
The Drive tweeted a statement from Upshaw's mother, Jewel Upshaw, in which she said her son died Monday morning after "continued efforts from the medical team at Spectrum Health" in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"To family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans & confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this most difficult time," Jewel Upshaw said in the statement.
Details on a memorial were not announced.
The Drive, who are affiliated with the NBA's Detroit Pistons, said in a statement that Upshaw had a "warm personality and was a tremendous representative of our organization both on and off the court."
Statement from the Drive: "The Drive family is mourning the tragic loss of Zeke Upshaw. He had a warm personality and was a tremendous representative of our organization both on and off the court. Our thoughts are with all of Zeke's family and friends during this difficult time." pic.twitter.com/FxQtaJoqbG— Grand Rapids Drive (@grdrive) March 26, 2018
The Pistons held a moment of silence in Upshaw's memory Monday night before their home game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The G League also pushed back the start of its playoffs, delaying not just the Drive's upcoming game but the entire first round. The conference quarterfinal games scheduled for March 27 and 28 have been moved to March 30 and 31.
G League president Malcolm Turner said the league was "devastated" by Upshaw's death.
"Zeke was an outstanding young man whose powerful belief in himself and uncommon perseverance led to a successful professional basketball career," Turner said in a statement. "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."
Numerous NBA players posted messages of sorrow after Upshaw's death was announced. Some members of the Pistons scrawled tributes on the sneakers they wore for their game Monday night, as did Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.
"Lost a real one today," Pistons star Andre Drummond wrote on Twitter. "Tragic loss of Zeke Upshaw, my thoughts and prayers are with all of Zeke's family and friends during this difficult time. ... Rest easy my guy."
Upshaw scored 11 points in Saturday's 101-99 win for Grand Rapids, which secured the Drive a spot in the G League playoffs. The Drive and Toronto affiliate Raptors 905 are scheduled to play in a single-elimination playoff game on Friday at Mississauga, Ontario. That game was originally slated to be played on Wednesday.
Upshaw was on defense Saturday night and coming out of a timeout with 49 seconds left when he appeared to stumble while chasing a Long Island player across the court. The video feed of the game showed Upshaw moments later motionless, lying face down. A referee stopped the game immediately, and Drive medical personnel were at Upshaw's side within seconds.
He was carried away on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital. It's not clear if he ever regained consciousness.
"Our hearts hurt with the passing of Zeke," Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said in a statement. "Zeke was one of the kindest and hardest-working student-athletes I have had the privilege to coach. Zeke laid the groundwork for the success we are having now and we will never forget the impact he had on Hofstra Basketball. Our entire program is heartbroken that he is no longer with us but his influence will continue to be felt throughout the Pride family. His story of perseverance was an amazing one and I can't believe the world won't get to see the next chapter. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
The Associated Press was used in this report.