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Maurice Stokes
Forward
Born June 17, 1933(1933-06-17)
Rankin, Pennsylvania, USA
Died April 6, 1970 (aged 36)
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 232 lb (105 kg)
College Saint Francis (PA)
Draft 2nd overall, 1955
Rochester Royals
Pro career 1955–1958
Former teams Rochester/Cincinnati Royals (1955–58)
Awards 1955 NIT MVP
NBA Rookie of the Year (1956)
All-NBA Second Team (1956, 1957, 1958)
Hall of Fame 2004

Maurice Stokes (June 17, 1933 in Rankin, Pennsylvania – April 6, 1970 in Cincinnati, Ohio) was an American professional basketball player in the 1950s, whose career was cut short by a debilitating injury.

Contents

Career

Playing for the National Basketball Association's Rochester Royals (which became the Cincinnati Royals in 1957) from 1955 to 1958, Stokes grabbed 38 rebounds in a single game during his rookie season, averaged 16.3 rebounds per game overall, and was named NBA Rookie of the Year. The next season, he set a league record for most rebounds in a single season with 1,256 (17.4 per game). Stokes played in the All-Star Game all three years of his career, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team three times. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in September 2004.

Death

On March 12, 1958 in the last game of the 1957-58 NBA season, in Minneapolis, Stokes drove to the basket, drew contact and fell to the floor, hit his head, and was knocked unconscious. He was revived with smelling salts and returned to the game. Three days later, after a 12-point, 15-rebound performance in an opening-round playoff game at Detroit against the Pistons, Stokes became ill on the team's flight back to Cincinnati. "I feel like I'm going to die," he told a teammate. Stokes later suffered a seizure, fell into a coma and was left permanently paralyzed. In the end, he was diagnosed with "post-traumatic encephalopathy, a brain injury that damaged his motor control center."[1 ] During the years that followed, Stokes was supported by his lifelong friend and teammate Jack Twyman. He died of a heart attack at 36 years of age. At Stokes's request, he was buried in a cemetery on the campus of Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. His story was made into the film Maurie in 1973.[2]

The Stokes Athletics Center

The Stokes Athletics Center

Twyman helped Stokes after his stroke by organizing an exhibition doubleheader in 1958 that raised $10,000 to help pay Stokes' expenses. That game became an annual tradition, spearheaded by Milton Kutsher[1 ] and held at the Kutsher's Hotel in Monticello, New York or at their camp, the Kutsher's Sports Academy. It was simply called The Maurice Stokes Game and included many of the NBA players. The tradition continues to this day "to raise funds for needy former players from the game's earlier days."[3] but instead of an off-season basketball game, per NBA and insurance company restrictions regarding the athletes,[4] it is the Maurice Stokes/Wilt Chamberlain Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament.[5][6]

The Stokes Athletics Center on the campus of the Saint Francis University is named in honor of him.

References

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Bob Pettit
NBA Rookie of the Year
1956
Succeeded by
Tom Heinsohn
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