In a G League Game, 26-year-old Zeke Upshaw Collapsed and Died

Two days after falling during a game for the Grand Rapids Drive, a G-League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons, Zeke Upshaw, passed away.

The Drive confirmed the 26-year-old’s death in a statement. “The Drive family is mourning the tragic loss of Zeke Upshaw. He had a warm personality and was a tremendous representative of our organization on and off the court. We are with Zeke’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Upshaw’s mother, Jewel, said her son had died on Monday morning despite the efforts of hospital staff in Grand Rapids. “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 on Twitter.

Upshaw passed out in the final 50 seconds of Saturday’s home game against the Long Island Nets. The NBA’s developmental league, the G-League, is what teams utilize to assess talented players.

Upshaw earned a degree in apparel, merchandising, and design from Illinois State and Hofstra, where he played basketball in college. Before being acquired by the Drive in 2016, he played in Slovenia and Luxembourg after going undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Zeke Upshaw Dies at Age 26 After Collapsing on the Court During a G League Game

Zeke Upshaw, a forward with the Grand Rapids Drive, passed away early on Monday morning after collapsing during the team’s G League game against the Long Island Nets on Saturday at the DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 26.

The mother of the Chicago native, Jewel Upshaw, stated in The Drive:

“After continued efforts from the Spectrum Health medical team, Zeke transitioned at 11:16 a.m. To family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans and confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this most difficult time.”

According to WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids, Upshaw suffered a heart attack on Saturday. The cause of death wasn’t disclosed right away.

While playing high school basketball for the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Upshaw became well-known.

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On Monday, Troy Caldwell discussed his influence with Peter J. Wallner of MLive.com. Troy Caldwell coached Upshaw while he was with the U-High Maroons.

“Beyond the best basketball player I ever had, he became the face of our basketball program and embraced it. He was a hard worker and highly 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 our leader. He was well respected not just on the team but in the city for how he played and carried himself.”

Before transferring to Hofstra for his final year, Upshaw played three seasons of football for Illinois State. He was not selected in 2014.

His professional career included employment with the Drive, which he joined in 2016, the Helios Suns (Slovenia), and Basket Esch (Luxembourg).

Zeke Upshaw’s Career and Demise

Zeke was a member of the Grand Rapids Drive, an NBA franchise connected to the Detroit Pistons, at the time of his sad death. The young youngster registered for the NBA draught in 2014 but was not selected.

Upshaw decided to play abroad after being passed over for the draught, and he signed a deal with the Helios Suns in Slovenia. Zeke spent one season with the team before moving to Luxembourg to play for a couple of years before coming home.

Zeke Upshaw Death
Zeke Upshaw Death

The 6-foot-6 big averaged 6.5 points in his first season with Grand Rapids Drive, mainly coming off the bench. In the second season, he played in 41 games and upped his scoring to 8.5 points per game.

Sadly, his final game for the Drive ended in tragedy. Upshaw contributed 11 points to his team’s victory over the Long Island Nets and playoff advancement. With just a few seconds left in the game, he, however, passed out on the ground.

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It was a tragedy when the gifted basketball player passed away from a heart arrest two days later. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end because his family later sued several businesses.

Final Lines

Basketball was where young and promising athlete Zeke Upshaw lost his life. Though Upshaw had a prosperous professional career outside of the NBA, he spent his final season in what is now known as the NBA G League.

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