Hank Gathers

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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 "Hank" Gathers (February 11, 1967 – March 4, 1990) was an American college basketball player at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) who collapsed and died during a game. He was the second player in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season. He originally played at the University of Southern California (USC), but transferred with teammate Bo Kimble to LMU after his freshman year. Gathers was born in Philadelphia, and was listed as 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) tall.

High school[edit]

Gathers played prep ball with Kimble at Dobbins Technical High School in Philadelphia with the pair leading the team to the Public League City championship in 1985.[1]

College career[edit]


Both Gathers and Kimble were recruited to the University of Southern California by Head Coach Stan Morrison and his top assistant, David Spencer. They were joined by high school All-American, Tom Lewis, and Rich Grande as the "Four Freshmen" star recruiting class.[2][3] Following an 11–17 season coaching USC, Morrison and Spencer were fired after the 1985-86 season, despite winning 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.[2]

USC hired George Raveling as the next head coach of the Trojans.[4] 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.[5] Raveling's controversial[6] 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."[2] Kimble and Gathers transferred together from USC to Loyola Marymount. Lewis transferred to Pepperdine. Grande remained at USC.[7]

Loyola Marymount[edit]

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.[8] Gathers led the team that year in both scoring and rebounding (averaging 22.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game), was named to the All-West Coast Conference (WCC) first team, and was awarded the WCC Tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP).[9][10] 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, averaging 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.[8][11] He was named WCC Player of the Year and again won the WCC Tournament MVP.[10] On December 30, 1988, he scored a career-high 49 points along with 26 rebounds in a 130–125 win over Nevada.[12]

As a senior in 1989–90, he was a candidate for player of the year and had been projected as an NBA lottery pick.[11] Gathers' 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' teams led Division I in scoring in 1988 (110.3 points per game), 1989 (112.5), and 1990 (122.4).[13] LMU's 122.4 point per game in 1990 is still a record as of April 2012.[14] As of April 2012, Loyola Marymount held the five highest combined score games in Division I history. Four of the five occurred during Gathers' career, including a record 331 in the 181–150 win over United States International University on January 31, 1989.[8][15]

At 6'7" and 210 pounds, Gathers was Loyola Marymount's strongest inside player. He had a high field goal percentage because he seldom shot from beyond 10 feet. 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."[8]

College statistics[edit]

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

Heart condition and death[edit]

On December 9, 1989, Gathers collapsed at an LMU home game against UC Santa Barbara.[16] He was found to have an abnormal heartbeat (exercise-induced ventricular tachycardia), and was prescribed a beta blocker, Inderal.[16] However, Gathers felt that the medication adversely affected his play, and his dosage was gradually cut back.[17] After missing three games, he struggled with his play for weeks after returning. 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.[12][18] The Lions won seven of their next eight games,[18] and Gathers recorded a career-high 30 rebounds against Saint Mary's.[12]

As the West Coast Conference (WCC) Tournament neared, Gathers did not show up for repeated appointments to test if the reduced medication was still suppressing the arrhythmias. It was suspected Gathers was not taking any dosage on game days.[16] On Sunday, March 4, 1990, in Los Angeles, he collapsed again with 13:34 left in the first half of the WCC tournament 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.[11][17] He collapsed a yard or two away from Pilots point guard Erik Spoelstra.[19] He attempted to get up, telling the athletic trainers, "I don't want to lay down!" Shortly after, he stopped breathing.[20] Gathers was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 6:55 PM PST.[21] He was 23 years old.[16]

Minutes after Gathers was taken to the hospital, the WCC commissioner suspended the game indefinitely.[22] ESPN broadcast graphic footage of Gathers' collapse on SportsCenter;[23] 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.[24]

An autopsy found that he suffered from a heart-muscle disorder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.[16] Gathers' family later filed a $32.5 million lawsuit charging negligence.[25] Loyola Marymount settled out of court for $1.4 million, while the cardiologist who treated Gathers settled for $1 million.[26][27]


Loyola Marymount was placed in the West Region as the #11 seed in that season's NCAA tournament. During LMU's subsequent run to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual national champion UNLV, Kimble—a right-handed player—shot his first free throw of each game left-handed in memory of Gathers, who, while naturally right-handed, was a poor free-throw shooter and had, for a time, attempted to shoot left-handed.[28] Kimble made all three attempts (he did not have any free-throw attempts in the Sweet 16 win over Alabama); from that point onward, and deep into his professional career, Kimble continued to honor Gathers by taking his first free throws left-handed.

Gathers was named a consensus second-team All-America and first team All-WCC selection for the season.[10][29] 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.[30]

In 1992, Gathers' life was dramatized in a TV movie, Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story, with Victor Love starring as Gathers.[31]

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.[32][33] His number 44 jersey was retired by LMU in 2000.[30] On January 29, 2005, the entire 1989–90 team was inducted into Loyola Marymount's Hall of Fame during halftime of a 63–46 win over cross-town rival Pepperdine. Gathers' mother, Lucille Gathers Cheeseboro, attended the ceremony.[34]

Gathers' nephew D. J. Rivera was the top-scoring America East Conference player during his 2008–09 season with Binghamton University. That season, the Binghamton Bearcats won the America East and for the first time earned a bid to the NCAA tournament.[35]

Gathers' nephew Jordan Gathers played three seasons at St. Bonaventure University from 2011 to 2014. He was forced to sit out the 2014–15 season due to hip surgery, and earned a bachelor's degree at St. Bonaventure in 2015. He completed one final season of college play at Butler University in 2015–16 as a graduate transfer.[36] As a freshman, Gathers was a member of the 2011–12 SBU team that won the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, earning the Bonnies their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2000.

Gathers was part of the storyline in the ESPN film Guru of Go about Westhead, part of their 30 for 30 series.[37]

Gathers' 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:[38]

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.

TMZ also interviewed Gathers' brother Derrick, who agreed with Kimble that Bosh should retire.[38]

Awards and records[edit]


  • 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)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b c Harvey, Randy - Un-Raveling at USC: A Failure to Communicate. Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1986
  3. ^ 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."
  4. ^ Fleischman, Bill -Raveling Leaves Iowa To Take Reins At USC. Philadelphia Daily News, March 28, 1986
  5. ^ Florence, Mal Taken From 3 USC Freshmen : Lewis, Gathers and Kimble Receive Word From Raveling. Los Angeles Times, April 15, 1986
  6. ^ Sands, Vernon - At Least, If Raveling Gives a Hoot, Then So Does His USC Team. Los Angeles Times, April 5, 1986
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b c d Hersch, Hank (February 13, 1989). "Gathers 'round The Rim". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on March 7, 2011.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ a b c Loyola 2010, p.77
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b c 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ NCAA 2010, p.5
  15. ^ NCAA 2010, pp.28–29
  16. ^ a b c d e Eggers, Kerry (March 3, 2011). "Remembering Hank Gathers". The Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on March 7, 2011.
  17. ^ a b Weinberg, Rick. "62: Hank Gathers collapses, dies of a heart condition". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  18. ^ a b 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.
  19. ^ Arnovitz, Kevin (1 June 2011). "The Mystery Guest Has Arrived". ESPN.com. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  20. ^ From the ESPN 30 for 30 film "Guru of Go", premiered April 3, 2010
  21. ^ 25 Years Later: The Night Hank Gathers Collapsed. ESPN.com. March 4, 2015. Event occurs at 0:00:12. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  22. ^ "Loyola's Gathers Collapses, Dies". Los Angeles Times. March 5, 1990. Archived from the original on February 6, 2013.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ NCAA (October 31, 2008). "NCAA Men's Basketball Records (Award Winners)" (PDF). p. 137. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2011.
  30. ^ a b c Loyola 2010, p.78
  31. ^ "Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story (1992)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ Plaschke, Bill (January 31, 2010). "Hank Gathers lives on in his house". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ "Binghamton's Rivera makes his case against the tide". Philadelphia Inquirer. March 20, 2009. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  36. ^ "Men's Basketball Bios: 5 - Jordan Gathers". Butler Bulldogs. Archived from the original on May 25, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  37. ^ 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
  38. ^ a b "Bo Kimble to Chris Bosh: Time to Retire; NBA Ain't Worth Dying For". TMZ.com. May 22, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  39. ^ West Coast Conference (November 11, 2010). "2010–11 Men's Basketball Guide" (PDF). p. 77. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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[edit]