NBA G-League player Zeke Upshaw has died, after he collapsed on the basketball court at the DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday night. At the time, sources told WOODTV that Upshaw had gone into cardiac arrest.
Upshaw’s team, the Grand Rapids Drive, were playing against the Long Island Nets when he collapsed. Upshaw fell to the ground and laid motionless on the court with under a minute left to play in the fourth quarter. He was quickly approached by emergency personnel and was taken off the court on a stretcher. He was rushed to a local hospital for care and, at the time, was said to be in critical condition.
Family and friends had been “hoping for a miracle.”
“We’re all just hoping for a miracle and praying,” Upshaw’s former basketball coach Troy Caldwell told MLive over the weekend. “Beyond the best basketball player that I ever had, but he became the face of our basketball program and embraced it. Hard worker and extremely talented and he always understood the work that had to go into being a talented basketball player. You don’t change the culture of a program in a locker room unless you have leaders, and he was definitely our leader. He was well respected and not just on the team but in the city for how he played and carried himself,” Caldwell added.
Upshaw passed away on Monday morning.
“After continued efforts from the medical team at Spectrum Health, Zeke made his transition at 11:16 am. To family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans & confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this most difficult time,” Upshaw’s mother, Jewel, said in a statement. “Details of his memorial will be announced at a later date. We’d like to thank the many doctors and nurses at Spectrum Health for their efforts in caring for our son. We’d also like to thank the Drive for the support they have extended to our family,” the statement concluded.
The Grand Rapids Drive also released a statement following Upshaw’s passing.
“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,” the team’s statement reads.
The Detroit Pistons have also released a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers extend to the entire Upshaw family during this terribly difficult time. Our organization is focused on providing necessary support for the Upshaw family as well as players and staff of the Grand Rapids Drive,” said Jeff Bower, General Manager for the Detroit Pistons.
Before joining the G-League, which is the National Basketball Association’s official minor league organization, Upshaw played college ball for three seasons at Illinois State and played a fourth season at Hofstra. He joined the Grand Rapids Drive two years ago.
“As a senior in 2013-14, he averaged 19.8 points and 4.1 rebounds. Upshaw went undrafted, played overseas and then drafted by the Drive in the fourth round of the G League’s developmental draft in October, 2016,” reports MLive.
He was just 26 years old.