A 17-year-old high school basketball player from New York State who was playing in an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournament at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), died after a game Thursday, July 28th.
Miguel Respress, a soon-to-be-senior at Niagara Falls High School, collapsed shortly before 3 p.m. outside the LMU Gersten Pavilion, where basketball games are played.
Athletic trainers and paramedics quickly came to the scene and Respress was taken to Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center Marina Campus on Lincoln Boulevard in the Marina area, where he was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m.
An autopsy was performed Monday, August 1st, but the cause of death will not be determined for a few more weeks, a Los Angeles County coroner’s office spokesman said.
Respress, a six-foot-seven, 200-pound forward, was playing in the Double Pump Best of the Summer tournament at LMU with the G.C. Ballers, his Buffalo-based AAU team.
The tournament began Wednesday, July 27th, and was being held at LMU, California State University-Dominguez Hills and Westchester High School.
Double Pump tournament organizers decided to cancel the event following the death of Respress.
“We send out our condolences to the family and we grieve for his teammates,” said Bill Husak, LMU athletic director.
LMU staff helped provide grief counseling and support to participants of the tournament and their families within 45 minutes of Respress’s death, said John Shaffer, LMU assistant athletics director of media services.
“It’s impressive how quickly the school responded,” Shaffer said.
Respress was not the first basketball player to die at LMU. Former LMU basketball star Hank Gathers collapsed during a West Coast Conference Tournament game at Gersten Pavilion in 1990 and died of a heart condition.
Husak said LMU staff members understand what it means to lose a basketball player after having to deal with the death of Gathers 15 years ago.
While both Respress and Gathers died after playing basketball games at LMU, the circumstances of the two deaths are “quite a bit different,” Husak said.
Respress had reportedly not been feeling well toward the end of the Double Pump tournament game in which he was playing, Husak said.
Respress finished the game and went outside to an atrium area that separates Gersten Pavilion and the Burns Recreation Center.
Respress had received a sports drink from G.C. Ballers coach Jeff Bishop, but Respress reportedly felt poorly and collapsed.
The area where Respress collapsed was within 30 feet of an athletic trainer’s station and trainers quickly responded to administer CPR, Husak said.
Respress had helped his Niagara Falls High School Wolverines basketball team win a New York state title this season after the team defeated Xaverian High School of Brooklyn.
Niagara Falls High School finished the season ranked third in the nation with a 28-1 overall record, according to USA Today.