20-Year-Old College Basketball Player Dies After ‘Cardiac Event’

Derek Gray
iStock/Getty Images Plus; inset: Derek Gray @ UWWAthletics

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater basketball player Derek Gray, 20, recently died after suffering from a “cardiac event,” according to his coach.

Gray’s coach Pat Miller told WKOW that the tragic incident occurred on July 24 while the 20-year-old was volunteering at a summer basketball camp, where more than 100 children from ages 10 to 17 were attending.

When Gray collapsed, Miller initially thought that his player was suffering from a seizure but realized it was more serious than he initially thought.

“It was just a very surreal situation where you’re thinking, ‘Okay, he’s going to be all right,’ and then you’re very scared, and the longer it went on, it became apparent that this was extraordinarily serious,” Miller told the local outlet.

The camp attendees were escorted out of the building as Gray was being treated by first responders.

Miller said that Gray’s death was attributed to a “cardiac event” stemming from a “blockage,” according to WKOW.

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks athletic department released a statement on social media mourning the passing of Gray.

“Warhawk Nation mourns the loss of Derek Gray, a student-athlete on the Warhawk men’s basketball team, who passed away unexpectedly on July 24th, 2022, playing the game he loved,” the statement read.

Gray, who started all 25 games this past season with the Warhawks in the Division III Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, ranked fifth in points per game (17.8) and second in steals (46) in the conference during his freshman year, according to the team’s website.

Miller told WKOW that he was garnering interest from Division I programs following his freshman breakout season.

Gray was majoring in criminology and had a “career ambition” to invest in real estate after he graduated, the team’s website stated.

Cullen Haskins, Assistant Principal of Lafollette High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where Gray attended high school, released a statement in light of the 20-year-old’s sudden death, per WMTV:

On behalf of Principal Mat Thomspon and all Lafollette High School Staff, it is with a profound sense of sadness that the La Follette community mourns the unexpected loss of former Lancer, Derek Gray. Derek was a giant of La Follette basketball and Lancer athletics, and was at his best in the toughest games and most challenging moments. He was a true “gamer”. His toughness and tenacity on the court will always be remembered, and his kindness and smile off the court forever missed. As a well known student-athlete and basketball standout, his presence and impact on the La Follette community was far-reaching. His life, both on and off the court, had an enormous impact on all those who knew him. As we process this tremendous loss for our community, we ask you to join us in keeping Derek’s friends, teammates, and family in our thoughts.

A GoFundMe page has been organized by the university basketball program’s “Tip-Off Club” to help Gray’s family with the funeral expenses.

Sudden cardiac deaths among young basketball players are, unfortunately, not uncommon. As Breitbart News reported in 2019, a study showed that most sudden cardiac deaths in youth sports occurred among basketball players, with a majority of those deaths occurring during practice.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.

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