Hank Gathers
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Hank Gathers

Hank Gathers
Hank Gathers (cropped).jpg
Gathers in 1990
Personal information
Born(1967-02-11)February 11, 1967
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedMarch 4, 1990(1990-03-04) (aged 23)
Los Angeles, California
Listed height6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High schoolDobbins Technical
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
PositionPower forward
Career highlights and awards

Eric Wilson "Hank" Gathers Jr.[1] (February 11, 1967 - March 4, 1990) was an American college basketball player for the Loyola Marymount Lions in the West Coast Conference (WCC). As a junior in 1989, he became the second player in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season. Gathers was a consensus second-team All-American as a senior in 1990. His No. 44 was retired by the Lions, who also placed a statue of him in his honor outside their home arena Gersten Pavilion.

Gathers began his college career with the USC Trojans, but transferred with teammate Bo Kimble to Loyola Marymount after his freshman year. Playing under Lions coach Paul Westhead and his fast-paced system, Gathers was a three-time first-team All-WCC selection. In his first season at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), he earned the first of two consecutive most valuable player (MVP) honors in the WCC Tournament. As a junior, he was named the WCC Player of the Year and began receiving All-American recognition. Early in his senior year in 1989-90, Gathers was diagnosed with an abnormal heartbeat after he collapsed during a game. He was placed on medication and returned a few weeks later, but he initially struggled, which he attributed to his medication. The dosage was gradually decreased, and his play recovered. Gathers died at age 23 after collapsing for the second time that season during the semifinals of the 1990 WCC Tournament.

Early life

Gathers was born to Lucille and Eric Gathers Sr. in Philadelphia.[2][3] Growing up in the Raymond Rosen Projects, one of the toughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, he stayed out of trouble by playing basketball.[3]

Gathers played prep ball at Dobbins Technical High School,[4] located among the housing projects in North Philadelphia.[5] He was joined on the team by his younger brother, Derrick Gathers, Bo Kimble and Doug Overton.[4] The Mustangs reached the Philadelphia Public League championship game in consecutive years, losing to a Pooh Richardson-led Benjamin Franklin High in 1984 before winning the title over Lionel Simmons' South Philadelphia High in 1985.[4][5]

College career


Gathers and Kimble were not friends until their senior year at Dobbins. Both of them were recruited to the University of Southern California by head coach Stan Morrison and his top assistant David Spencer. During a visit to USC, the two recruits were told that the area around campus was deemed a slum. Gathers and Kimble, however, considered the area to be a suburb compared to their home of Philadelphia.[6] Gathers made up his mind early that he would join USC, while Kimble decided independently and only after spurning Temple late.[7] They were joined on the Trojans by high school All-American, Tom Lewis, and Rich Grande as the "Four Freshmen" star recruiting class.[6][8] Following an 11-17 season in 1985-86, Morrison and Spencer were fired despite having won the Pac-10 Conference the previous year. It was reported that the players would not remain unless certain conditions were met, including having a say in the next coaching staff.[6]

USC hired George Raveling as the next head coach of the Trojans.[9] Raveling gave the players a deadline to respond whether they would remain on the team. When they did not respond, he revoked the scholarships of Gathers, Kimble, and Lewis.[10] Raveling's controversial[11] statement was, "You can't let the Indians run the reservation," he said. "You've got to be strong, too. Sometimes you have to tell them that they have to exit."[6] Kimble and Gathers transferred together from USC to LMU. Lewis transferred to Pepperdine. Grande remained at USC.[12]

Loyola Marymount

Due to NCAA regulations, Gathers and Kimble could not play in the season following their transfer. They helped lead the Lions to a 28-4 record in 1987-88.[13] Gathers led the team that year in both scoring and rebounding (averaging 22.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game), was named first-team All-WCC and was awarded the WCC Tournament MVP.[14][15] In the 1988-89 season, Gathers became the second player in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season,[a] averaging 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.[16] He was named WCC Player of the Year and again won the WCC Tournament MVP.[15] On December 30, 1988, he scored a career-high 49 points along with 26 rebounds in a 130-125 win over Nevada.[17] After the season, he decided against declaring for the NBA draft.[17]

As a senior in 1989-90, he was a candidate for national player of the year and projected as an NBA lottery pick.[16] Gathers's head coach while at LMU, 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. Gathers's teams led Division I in scoring in 1988 (110.3 points per game), 1989 (112.5), and 1990 (122.4).[18] LMU's 122.4 point per game in 1990 is still a record as of April 2012.[19] As of April 2012, Loyola Marymount held the five highest combined score games in Division I history. Four of the five occurred during Gathers's career, including a record 331 in the 181-150 win over United States International University on January 31, 1989.[13][20]

At 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) and 210 pounds (95 kg), Gathers was Loyola Marymount's strongest inside player. He had a high field goal percentage because he seldom shot from beyond 10 feet (3.0 m). He used his power and quickness for follow-up baskets and scoring on fast breaks. "I don't care much about the points," said Gathers. "In fact, I should lead the nation in scoring because of my rebounding. Anybody can score 30 points a night if that's what he's concentrating on. But rebounding is special because it comes from the heart."[13]

Heart condition and death

On December 9, 1989, Gathers collapsed at an LMU home game against UC Santa Barbara.[21] He was found to have an abnormal heartbeat (exercise-induced ventricular tachycardia), and was prescribed a beta blocker, Inderal.[21] However, Gathers felt that the medication adversely affected his play, and his dosage was gradually cut back.[22] Originally prescribed at 240 milligrams per day, his Inderal dosage was cut to 40 mg per day over the next three months.[3] Gathers returned after sitting out for three weeks and missing two games,[17][23] and he averaged 29.3 minutes and 29.15 points in his 20 games through the remainder of the season.[24] However, he struggled with his play for weeks after returning.[23][25] His play recovered in a nationally televised game against LSU on February 3, 1990, when he scored 48 points along with 13 rebounds while being guarded by future NBA first-round draft picks Stanley Roberts and Shaquille O'Neal in a 148-141 overtime loss.[25] The Lions won seven of their next eight games,[25] and Gathers recorded a career-high 30 rebounds against Saint Mary's.[17]

On February 26, 1990, as the WCC Tournament neared, Gathers's medication was reduced one last time from 80 to 40 mg, on the condition that he undergo testing in a couple of days to determine if it was safe and effective at suppressing the arrhythmias. He did not show up for his test that week and avoided calls from his cardiologist's office.[21][3] On March 2, he had a long talk with the cardiologist, who told him to play and come in for the testing after the tournament concluded.[21][3] It was later suspected Gathers was not taking any dosage on game days.[21] The following day in the WCC tournament quarterfinals in Los Angeles, he recorded 28 points and 11 rebounds in a 121-84 win over Gonzaga.[26]

On Sunday, March 4, Gathers collapsed again with 13:34 left in the first half of the semifinal game against the Portland Pilots. He had just scored a dunk on an alley-oop pass from point guard Terrell Lowery that put the Lions up 25-13.[16][22] Thirteen seconds later while positioned around midcourt in the Lions' fullcourt press,[26] he collapsed a yard or two away from Pilots point guard Erik Spoelstra.[27] He attempted to get up, telling the athletic trainers, "I don't want to lay down!" Shortly after, he stopped breathing.[28] Gathers was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 6:55 PM PST.[29] He was 23 years old.[21]

Minutes after Gathers was taken to the hospital, the WCC commissioner suspended the game indefinitely.[30] ESPN broadcast graphic footage of Gathers's collapse on SportsCenter;[31] the network was at the game recording advance footage for the championship game it was scheduled to televise the next night. Late that night, the WCC canceled the tournament and awarded Loyola the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament due to its WCC regular season title.[32]

Gathers was buried at the Mount Lawn Cemetery in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania.[23] An autopsy found that he suffered from a heart-muscle disorder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.[21] His family later filed a $32.5 million lawsuit charging negligence.[33] Loyola Marymount settled out of court for $1.4 million, while the cardiologist who treated Gathers settled for $1 million.[34][35]


Loyola Marymount was placed in the West Regional as the No. 11 seed in that season's NCAA tournament.[36] Before the tournament, the right-handed Kimble vowed to shoot his first free throw of each game left-handed, in memory of Gathers. Though naturally right-handed, Gathers was a poor free-throw shooter and had switched to shooting them left-handed.[37][38] The Lions advanced to the Elite Eight, including a victory over defending national champion Michigan, before falling to the eventual champions, UNLV.[36] Kimble finished a perfect 3-for-3 on his left-handed free throws during the tournament.[b] Both LMU's Cinderella story without Gathers and Kimble's left-handed tributes to him became part of NCAA tournament lore.[36][39][41]

Gathers was named a consensus second-team All-America and first team All-WCC selection for the season.[15][42] He finished his career averaging 28.0 points and making 59 percent of his field goals, which were both school records as of 2010. He also averaged 11.1 rebounds for his career. He was voted WCC Player of the Decade for the 1980s.[43]

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.[44][45] His No. 44 and Kimble's No. 30 were retired by LMU in a joint ceremony in 2000.[7][46] In 2005, the entire 1989-90 team was inducted into Loyola Marymount's Hall of Fame.[47] On February 29, 2020, four days before the 30th anniversary of his death, a statue of Gathers was unveiled outside Gersten Pavilion. The statue was created by Rotblatt-Amrany, which designed multiple statues outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, as well as the Michael Jordan statue in Chicago.[48]

Gathers's life was dramatized in a 1992 TV movie, Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story, with Victor Love starring as Gathers.[49] Gathers was part of the storyline in the ESPN film Guru of Go about Westhead, part of their 30 for 30 series.[50]

Gathers's death reemerged in national news wires during the 2016 NBA Playoffs when Kimble, interviewed for the celebrity gossip website TMZ.com, urged that Miami Heat star Chris Bosh retire for health reasons. Bosh has been suffering from blood clotting issues that forced him to miss the last several months of both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, as well as the entirety of the 2016-17 season. While Bosh felt that he was healthy enough to continue playing, Kimble disagreed:[51]

There are so many other things he could do with his life. Hank Gathers had the same thing, Hank could have been a comedian, and actor or did speaking engagements. It's not worth the risk. I would just say absolutely not, don't do it. If Hank had the ability to do it again he wouldn't have paid the ultimate price ... I am sure [Bosh] has children and they are going to need their father around as much as possible.[51]

Career statistics

1985-86 USC 28 12 23.9 .529 - .576 5.1 .8 .6 .4 8.3
1987-88 Loyola Marymount 32 31 29.6 .562 .000 .543 8.7 1.3 1.4 .7 22.5
1988-89 Loyola Marymount 31 31 34.1 .608 .000 .562 13.7 2.1 1.4 .7 32.7
1989-90 Loyola Marymount 26 26 30.2 .595 .000 .568 10.8 1.5 1.7 .9 29.0
Career 117 100 29.6 .585 .000 .560 9.6 1.4 1.3 .7 23.3

Awards and records


  • 1989 WCC Player of the Year
  • 2× WCC Tournament MVP (1988, 1989)
  • Consensus second-team All-American (1990)
  • 3× First-team All-WCC (1988, 1989, 1990)
  • 2× All-WCC Tournament (1988, 1989)



  • Career points (2,490)
  • Field goals made, career (1,037)
  • Field goals made, season (419)
  • Free throws attempted, career (745)
  • Free throws attempted, season (315)


  • Career scoring average (28.0)
  • Field goals made, game (24)
  • Field goals attempted, game (37)
  • Field goal percentage, career (.590)
  • Rebounds, game (29)


Personal life

Gathers's son Aaron Crump was age six when his father died. Crump received a reported $1.5 million from Gathers's wrongful-death lawsuits. He gained control of the money when he turned 18. It became a problem for Crump, who later described himself as a "young black male with no guidance" at that time. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a weapon, and was in a state prison from 2007 until 2012. Crump became a salesperson. He also mentors children through the Hank Gathers Legacy Group that he founded.[23]

Gathers's nephew, D. J. Rivera, played college basketball and led the America East Conference in scoring with the Binghamton Bearcats in 2008-09, when they won the conference for the first time and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament.[53] Another nephew, Jordan Gathers, earned a bachelor's degree at St. Bonaventure University and played three seasons for their Bonnies basketball team from 2011 to 2014. He played a final season with Butler in 2015-16 as a graduate transfer.[54][55]

See also


  1. ^ Xavier McDaniel was the first in 1984-85.[13]
  2. ^ Kimble shot free throws in three of Loyola's four tournament games, with none in their Sweet 16 win over Alabama.[39][40]


  1. ^ Silary, Ted (March 6, 2000). "In memory, he lives forever". Philadelphia Daily News. p. 110. Retrieved 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Rhoden, William C. (March 13, 1990). "A Final Salute for Hank Gathers; Player's Funeral Brings Out the Best in Philadelphia". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e Hudson, Maryann (October 6, 1992). "A Legacy on Court, in Court". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Lee, Michael (February 29, 2020). "'His heart was bigger than life:' 30 years after Hank Gathers' passing". The Athletic. Retrieved 2020.
  5. ^ a b Howard-Cooper, Scott (March 6, 1990). "The death of Hank Gathers: High school mourns distant symbol of pride : Philadelphia: Dobbins Tech, which won a city championship with Kimble and Gathers, has a special feeling of loss". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d Harvey, Randy - Un-Raveling at USC: A Failure to Communicate. Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1986
  7. ^ a b Silary, Ted (March 6, 2000). "Gathers (Continued from Preceding Page)". Philadelphia Daily News. p. 111. Retrieved 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Florence, Mal - Freshmen Make Sweet Music in USC Victory. Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1986. "The young players--Hank Gathers, Tom Lewis, Bo Kimble and Rich Grande--all contributed Saturday afternoon as USC beat Arizona State, 81-72, at the Sports Arena."
  9. ^ Fleischman, Bill -Raveling Leaves Iowa To Take Reins At USC. Philadelphia Daily News, March 28, 1986
  10. ^ Florence, Mal Taken From 3 USC Freshmen : Lewis, Gathers and Kimble Receive Word From Raveling. Los Angeles Times, April 15, 1986
  11. ^ Sands, Vernon - At Least, If Raveling Gives a Hoot, Then So Does His USC Team. Los Angeles Times, April 5, 1986
  12. ^ Hudson, Maryann (March 6, 1990). "The death of Hank Gathers: Spencer sold USC on work ethic of a Philadelphia kid". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  13. ^ a b c d Hersch, Hank (February 13, 1989). "Gathers 'round The Rim". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on March 7, 2011.
  14. ^ Loyola Marymount Athletics (November 2, 2010). "2010-11 Loyola Marymount University Men's Basketball Media Almanac" (PDF). LMULions.com. p. 135. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2011.
  15. ^ a b c Loyola 2010, p.77
  16. ^ a b c Maxey, Wendell (March 4, 2010). "Hank Gathers' legacy endures 20 years after tragic on-court death". USA Today. Archived from the original on March 7, 2011.
  17. ^ a b c d Peters, Nick (March 6, 1990). "Hank Gathers' Star Shone Bright On and Off Basketball Court". Los Angeles Times. McClatchy News Service. Archived from the original on January 17, 2015.
  18. ^ NCAA (November 10, 2010). "2010-11 NCAA Men's Basketball Records - Division I Records" (PDF). NCAA.org. NCAA. p. 39. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2011.
  19. ^ NCAA 2010, p.5
  20. ^ NCAA 2010, pp.28-29
  21. ^ a b c d e f g Eggers, Kerry (March 3, 2011). "Remembering Hank Gathers". The Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on March 7, 2011.
  22. ^ a b Weinberg, Rick. "62: Hank Gathers collapses, dies of a heart condition". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  23. ^ a b c d Jerardi, Dick (February 27, 2015). "Remembering Hank, 25 years later". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2019.
  24. ^ "The Last Months Of Hank Gathers". The New York Times. March 29, 1990. p. B-15. Retrieved 2020.
  25. ^ a b c Herbert, Steven (April 19, 1992). "The Pride of the Lions: Film follows the life of Loyola's Hank Gathers until his 'Final Shot' two years ago". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 17, 2015.
  26. ^ a b Buker, Paul (March 5, 1990). "Gathers' Death Ends Tourney". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2019.
  27. ^ Arnovitz, Kevin (June 1, 2011). "The Mystery Guest Has Arrived". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2011.
  28. ^ From the ESPN 30 for 30 film "Guru of Go", premiered April 3, 2010
  29. ^ 25 Years Later: The Night Hank Gathers Collapsed. Olbermann. March 4, 2015. Event occurs at 0:00:12. Retrieved 2019.
  30. ^ "Loyola's Gathers Collapses, Dies". Los Angeles Times. March 5, 1990. Archived from the original on February 6, 2013.
  31. ^ Stewart, Larry (March 6, 1990). "This Was a Story That Was Tough to Watch, and Difficult to Cover". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 6, 2013.
  32. ^ Hodges, Jim; Stewart, Larry (March 5, 1990). "Other Reactions: WCC Cancels Tournament; TV's Footage Is Dramatic". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 6, 2013.
  33. ^ Hudson, Maryann (June 22, 1990). "No Settlement in Gathers Suits : Litigation: Family attorney seeks videotape from ESPN to support case and is refused". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  34. ^ Hudson, Maryann (March 31, 1992). "Loyola Settles Lawsuit by Gathers' Mother: Jurisprudence: She receives $545,000". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  35. ^ Hudson, Maryann (September 10, 1992). "Gathers Lawsuit Is Dismissed: Jurisprudence: Case against two doctors ends when family members don't appear to testify". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  36. ^ a b c "1990 MEN'S NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 2020.
  37. ^ "Lions to return to practice floor". The Baxter Bulletin. AP. March 10, 1990. Retrieved 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  38. ^ Parrish, Gary (February 22, 2007). "Memorable Moment No. 4: Bo's lefty tribute is right on target". CBSSports.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  39. ^ a b Klingaman, Mike (March 16, 2006). "CINDERELLAS RELIVE DREAMS". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2020 – via DailyPress.com.
  40. ^ "Bo Kimble 1989-90 Game Log". Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2020.
  41. ^ Farudo, Jeff (March 16, 2010). "NCAA Tournament: Best of the Bay". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2020.
  42. ^ NCAA (October 31, 2008). "NCAA Men's Basketball Records (Award Winners)" (PDF). p. 137. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2011.
  43. ^ a b Loyola 2010, p.78
  44. ^ Drooz, Alan (March 7, 1990). "As in His Life, Gathers Stirs Ovations : Memorial: Family, friends fill Gersten Pavilion to pay tribute to the late Loyola Marymount star". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  45. ^ Plaschke, Bill (January 31, 2010). "Hank Gathers lives on in his house". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  46. ^ Dufrense, Chris (February 20, 2000). "Paying Respects in HANK'S HOUSE". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020.
  47. ^ Stephens, Eric (January 30, 2005). "Lion Hearts Soar on a Special Night at Loyola". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  48. ^ "Hank Gathers Statue Unveiled at LMU". NBCLosAngeles.com. February 29, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  49. ^ "Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story (1992)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  50. ^ Sepinwall, Allan (April 2, 2010), "30 for 30, 'Guru of Go': Paul Westhead, Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble, together again", The Star-Ledger, archived from the original on March 8, 2011
  51. ^ a b "Bo Kimble to Chris Bosh: Time to Retire; NBA Ain't Worth Dying For". TMZ.com. May 22, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  52. ^ West Coast Conference (November 11, 2010). "2010-11 Men's Basketball Guide" (PDF). p. 77. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2011.
  53. ^ "Binghamton's Rivera makes his case against the tide". Philadelphia Inquirer. March 20, 2009. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  54. ^ Braziller, Zach (March 3, 2016). "Jordan Gathers carries legacy of Loyola Marymount legend". New York Post. Retrieved 2019.
  55. ^ "Men's Basketball Bios: 5 - Jordan Gathers". Butler Bulldogs. Archived from the original on May 25, 2016. Retrieved 2016.

Further reading

  • Keiderling, Kyle (2010). Heart of a Lion: The Life, Death and Legacy of Hank Gathers. Morningstar Books. ISBN 978-0-9778996-8-5.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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