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Hank Gathers, basketball player for Loyola Marymount University, at Sportscasters Camps of America in Los Angeles, 1989

Eric "Hank" Gathers (February 11, 1967, in Philadelphia – March 4, 1990 in Los Angeles) was an American college basketball star at Loyola Marymount University who collapsed and died during a game. He originally played at the University of Southern California, but transferred with teammate Bo Kimble to LMU after his freshman year. He was listed as 6'7" in height.


High school

Gathers played prep ball with Kimble at Dobbins Technical High School in Philadelphia, with the pair leading the team to the Public League City championship in 1985. Both Gathers and Kimble were then recruited to the University of Southern California by Head Coach Stan Morrison and his top assistant, David Spencer. After Morrison and Spencer were fired following the 1985–86 season, Kimble and Gathers transferred together from USC to Loyola Marymount.

College career

In the 1988–89 season, he became the second player in history to lead NCAA Division I in scoring and rebounding in the same season, averaging 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. LMU's coach at that time, Paul Westhead, had instituted an extraordinarily fast-paced game plan. On offense, the Lions took numerous three-point shots, and typically shot the ball within 10 seconds of gaining possession; their defense was a full court press designed to force their opponents into a frenzied up-and-down game. Loyola Marymount still holds the place in the NCAA record books for being involved in the five highest scoring games in Division I history.


Heart condition and death

Gathers' first sign of trouble came on Saturday, December 9, 1989, when he collapsed at the free throw line during an LMU home game against UCSB.

He was found to have an abnormal heartbeat (exercise-induced ventricular tachycardia), and was prescribed a beta blocker. However, Gathers felt that the medication adversely affected his play, and he soon cut back on his dosage.[1]

On Sunday, March 4, 1990, he collapsed again with 13:34 left in the first half of a West Coast Conference tournament quarterfinal game against Portland, just after scoring on an alley-oop dunk that put the Lions up 25–13. He was declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital at the age of 23. An autopsy found that he suffered from a heart-muscle disorder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Following his death, Gathers's parents eventually sued LMU for $32.5 million. The school settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.


As a result of Gathers' death, the 1990 WCC tournament was suspended, and Loyola Marymount was given the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament (as a #11 seed) due to its regular season championship. During LMU's subsequent run to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual national champion UNLV, Gathers' teammate Bo Kimble (a right-handed player) shot his first free throw of each game left-handed in memory of Gathers, who, while naturally right-handed, was a poor free-throw shooter and had, for a time, attempted to shoot left-handed[1]. He made all three attempts (Kimble did not have any free-throw attempts in the Sweet 16 win over Alabama).

In 1992, Gathers' life was dramatized in a TV movie, as Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story. He was portrayed by Victor Love.

Gersten Pavilion, LMU's on-campus athletics facility, is known to Lions fans as "Hank's House", although that is not part of its official name. On 29 January 2005, members of Gathers' 1989–90 team, including Kimble, were inducted into the Loyola Marymount Hall of Fame during halftime of a 63–46 win over cross-town rival Pepperdine. Gathers' mother, Lucille Gathers Cheeseboro, also attended the ceremony.

Gathers' nephew D.J. Rivera is the top scoring player in 2009 for the NCAA Division I America East Conference. He attends Binghamton University (SUNY). Due to his strong play this season the Binghamton Bearcats won the America East and for the first time earned a bid to the NCAA tournament.

See also


  1. ^

External links


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