*Former basketball star Jerome Kersey, who spent 17 seasons in the NBA and was a beloved player for the Portland Trail Blazers, has died, according to reports.
The official cause of death was a pulmonary embolism, according to pathologist Dr. Larry Lewman who conducted the autopsy. “There was a blood clot in his left calf that broke loose and traveled to his lungs and clogged both his pulmonary arteries.”
Dr. Lewman adds, “We’re still gathering information, but it appears he had a surgical procedure recently. Anyone who is post surgical, who isn’t moving around a lot, is at risk.”
Kersey went in for a routine knee surgery earlier this week, according to Comcast SportsNet.
“Wednesday [he] reportedly told fellow Trail Blazer employees at the team’s Rose Quarter office that he wasn’t feeling well and was going to go home,” the site reported, adding that a source told them Kersey collapsed on the way to his car. There is, however, a conflicting report that he was taken by an ambulance from his home in Lake Oswego to a local hospital.
“Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” Blazers’ owner Paul Allen said in a statement to the Washington Post. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It’s a terrible loss.”
“It is so sad,” said former Portland teammate Clyde Drexler, his voice cracking in a phone call to Comcast SportsNet. “It is a huge loss for the Portland community. He was the greatest guy, the nicest friend, teammate and brother. He was loved by everyone. We will all miss him. He just cared so much. This is unbelievable.”
Kersey was a noteworthy small forward on the Portland team. He was originally drafted in 1984.
When he left the Blazers in 1995 he was at or near the top of virtually every important statistical category, including games played, minutes, points, rebounds, blocked shots and assists.
After finishing his playing career he served as an assistant coach in the NBA and has worked for the Trail Blazers. He is survived by his wife Teri and four daughters.
Below, his former teammate Terry Porter reacts to the news: