Former NBA player Jerome Kersey died Wednesday at the Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin, Oregon, according to media reports. The former member of the Portland Trail Blazers was 52 years old.
The Trail Blazers confirmed Kersey’s death in a statement released Wednesday night, but did not provide details of what caused his death. Kersey had undergone knee surgery earlier this week, Comcast SportsNet reported, after which he reportedly told some Trail Blazers employees that he was feeling unwell, and collapsed on the way to his car.
"Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform," said team owner Paul Allen in the statement. "My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It's a terrible loss."
Kersey was a team ambassador, who had, on Tuesday, appeared with former Trail Blazers player Terry Porter and Brian Grant at Madison High School in Portland, to celebrate African American History Month, Oregon Live reported.
Over his 17-year career, Kersey played for six different teams, becoming an NBA champion during his 1999 season with the San Antonio Spurs. He retired in 2001, and went on to serve as assistant coach under Porter for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2004-2005. In 2008, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Over the course of his 11 seasons with the Trail Blazers, Kersey had an average of over 17 points a game. He was a second-round pick for the Blazers in 1984, and teamed with Clyde Drexler and Porter.
"He was the greatest guy, the nicest friend, teammate and brother," Drexler told Comcast SportsNet.
Kersey was reportedly also known for being active in the community, appearing at several Trail Blazers events after his retirement, and remained a fan favorite even after he stopped playing.
In a tweet, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales called him a “true community leader.”
The great Jerome Kersey, right, at a coaching clinic for young boys, earlier this month. True community leader. pic.twitter.com/3TyWU7jH8L
— Charlie Hales (@MayorPDX) February 19, 2015