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[huntington-news]Lewis’ death still has impact

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by tinman, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    May 9, 1999
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    Lewis’ death still has impact
    By Kirby Morrison

    News Correspondent

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    Published: Wednesday, July 29, 2009
    Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2009
    July marks the sixteenth anniversary of the passing of Reggie Lewis, a legend at Northeastern who had a brilliant career with the Boston Celtics.
    Born in Baltimore Nov. 21, 1965, Lewis suffered sudden cardiac arrest while shooting around at the Celtics’ practice facility in Waltham in July of 1993. His death was attributed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease and the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in athletes, according to a review of sudden cardiac death in young athletes conducted by the Journal of Athletic Training in 2001. Despite passing away at 27, Lewis made a lasting impression both on and, more importantly, off of the court.
    Lewis is well known in both the Boston and Baltimore areas as a humanitarian: He gave free turkeys to the less fortunate on Thanksgiving through the Reggie Lewis Foundation. The Reggie Lewis Track Center, 1350 Tremont Street St., reveres Lewis, as it states on its website, “not only for his athletic prowess but also for his dedication and advocacy for the educational, physical, emotional and social well being of the youth within the Boston community. It is this legacy which, in great part, shapes the vision, mission and goals of the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.”
    Lewis’ and other heart disease-related deaths, such as Loyola Marymount basketball star Hank Gathers who died in 1990 after collapsing in the middle of a game, have caused the sports world to re-examine itself and the way athletes are screened before competition.
    In 1996, the American Heart Association’s panel of experts developed guidelines and recommendations for proper screening for such conditions. These guidelines, along with concern from the general public, have produced beneficial awareness to pre-existing heart conditions that may lead to sudden cardiac death.
    In 2006, a team of doctors at the Padua Centre for Sports Medicine in Italy did a study of sudden heart-related deaths in athletes ages 12 to 35 and found deaths have decreased 89 percent since screening was introduced. The doctors gave their recommendations for heart screening in the Oct. 4, 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
    “These findings suggest that screening athletes for cardiomyopathies is a life-saving strategy,” according to the report.
    An awareness of pre-existing conditions may end up saving the lives of countless athletes. 2009 Northeastern graduate Brian Mandeville, for example, was invited to the 2009 NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, but was told his career was over after a routine physical discovered a problem with his heart. While the issue is not life-threatening, Mandeville has been advised not to enter the NFL in order to save his health.
    In 2008, NBA point guard Cuttino Mobley of the New York Knicks retired because of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which was found to be worsening after undergoing a routine physical after being traded from the Los Angeles Clippers.
    The deaths of Lewis and Gathers have served as catalysts for improvements in medical screening, but many feel there is still room to improve. There is no legal obligation for high schools and colleges to pre-screen athletes for heart conditions and the American Heart Association has said the current screening process does not meet its standards.
    Northeastern retired number 35 in 1989 in honor of Lewis after he averaged 22.2 points per game over his four year career with the Huskies from 1983 to 1987, which included three North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year Awards. The Huskies went 102-26 over that span and made two NCAA tournament appearances. Lewis left Northeastern as the ninth-leading scorer in Division 1 collegiate basketball history at the time.
    In the 1987 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics picked Lewis 22nd overall. He is one of only 13 Northeastern players to ever be drafted by an NBA team.
    On April 29, 1993, Reggie collapsed on the court during his last game against the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA playoffs. He scored 17 points in only 13 minutes of play. This was after he had established himself as not only one of the brightest stars in the NBA but also a leader as he was chosen as the captain of the historic Boston Celtics franchise.
    Lewis still stands today as the only Celtic to have ever recorded at least 100 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 blocks and 100 steals in a single season. From 1987 to 1993, Lewis was one of only five players in the NBA to have amassed at least 7,000 points, 1,000 assists, 400 blocks and 500 steals. The only other players to accomplish this during that time period were Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing.
    On March 22, 1995, Reggie’s number 35 was retired by the Boston Celtics.

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