Remembering Hank Gathers
Many of us might already be familiar with Hank Gathers. Projected by most media outlets to be the first overall pick of the NBA draft in 1990. Captain of what many consider the most entertaining college basketball team, EVER. Only the second person to ever lead the NCAA in both scoring and rebounding in the same season. Those that don’t follow basketball may have seen Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story when it was initially released in 1992, or perhaps when it was re-released on DVD in 2006. Others are familiar with the 30 for 30 episode that ESPN produced in 2010.
However, for countless others, Hank and his story is now a footnote in the back of our minds, or we were never familiar with his story at all. On this day, 26 years ago, Hank Gathers, who was on top of the world, collapsed and died on the basketball court. Hank, #44, was a 6'7" forward at Loyola Marymount University. Hank lead his team to an unimaginable tournament run in what is arguably the most notable Cinderella story that March Madness has ever experienced. But, unlike the folk tale, this story didn’t have a happy ending.
On March 4th, 1990, LMU was playing Portland in the West Coast Conference tournament championship to advance into the NCAA tournament. Hank’s mother, aunt and other family members were in attendance. Hank Gathers had just scored off of an alley-oop slam dunk and started to run back down the court to play defense. Suddenly, Hank collapsed at half court.
Hank attempted to sit up, then tried to get to his knees. He was instructed to lay back down and did. He then lost consciousness. Hank was removed from the gym on a stretcher where they took him outside the gym and used a defibrillator on him. The defibrillator was purchased by the school for Hank, due to his heart condition they discovered months earlier when he collapsed during a home game. Hank was shocked several times and CPR was administered outside the gym. It was announced later that Hank Gathers passed away at the hospital.
Interview with Bo Kimble
If you’re familiar with Hank Gathers, you also know Bo Kimble. Bo Kimble was a 6'4" guard at Loyola Marymount University. He was a great friend and teammate of the late Hank Gathers. The dynamic duo grew up in Philadelphia together, enrolled in USC as a pair, and then when the head coach at USC quit, transferred to Loyola Marymount together. Bo was a superstar in his own right, and that year was drafted #8 overall in the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. Bo went on to play professionally for the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.
But, in 1990, after the untimely death of his friend, Bo and the rest of the LMU team went on to the NCAA tournament. In one of the most heartfelt gestures in sports’ history, Bo Kimble shot left-handed free throws in honor of Hank, who had been shooting his free throws left-handed. The team rallied around Bo and Hanks’ memory, and made an unfathomable run to the Elite 8, captivating the country in the meanwhile.
Bo Kimble, since retiring from basketball, began a foundation to honor Hank where he would help teach CPR and AED importance to young students and athletes. Bo has been an EMS Safety Services Instructor since May, 2011, and provides classes across the state of Pennsylvania and surrounding area.
Bo Kimble sat down with us to discuss the anniversary of Hank's passing as well as his foundation and goals.
EMS Safety is working closely with www.heartsmart.com, Bo Kimble and his foundation, 44 for Life, to try and help donate 44 AEDs and 44 CPR classes. You can help make a difference by supporting the cause by just taking a couple seconds out of your day to show your support on Facebook, which can be read about here: http://www.emssafetyservices.com/44-for-life/