Hank Gathers led the Lions into an unprecedented NCAA tournament run that ended after he collapsed and died on the court, one of the most most tragic moments in basketball history
Photo courtesy of LMU

Former teammates, family, friends and fans will celebrate the late Loyola Marymount University basketball star Hank Gathers on Saturday with the unveiling of a statue in his honor outside Gersten Pavilion.

The dedication ceremony coincides with the 30th anniversary of the LMU Lions’1989-90 underdog run in the NCAA Basketball tournament, when Gathers led the nation in scoring and his team made it all the way to the Elite Eight for the first and only time. Gathers, who had been diagnosed with a heart condition, collapsed and died during the first half of a semifinal game against the University of Portland.

Gathers’ mother Louise and other family members are expected to make the trip from his hometown of Philadelphia.

“With this statue we hope to create a lasting legacy for Hank on campus. This is also a great opportunity for those who don’t know the history of the 1989-90 team and Hank to learn what it meant to the university and the community. He was truly a larger-than-life figure,” LMU Athletic Director Craig Pintens said.

The Hank Gathers statue dedication ceremony begins at 4 p.m., one hour before the Lions host the University of San Francisco Dons for LMU’s final home game of the season. Details of its appearance remain under wraps, but designer the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany has also created some of the statues of sports figures outside Staples Center, including those of Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal.

Former LMU head basketball coach Paul Westhead and members of the 1989-90 team are also expected to attend the ceremony and game and be recognized at halftime. Current players will wear special-edition throwback uniforms.

Pintens said that while the historic season was a seminal moment in the university’s history, the tragedy of Gathers’ death still lingers.

“Hopefully, [the ceremony] will provide some healing for everyone,” he said.

— Gary Walker

Fans can attend the 4 p.m. ceremony for free and can also park for free across from Gersten Pavilion in Lot A. Tickets to the game start at $9. Call the LMU ticket office at (310) 338-LION or visit axs.com.