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Hank Gathers

Was an American college basketball star at Loyola Marymount University.

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Young Athletes: Are They Too Driven to Succeed?

  • Jul 16, 2010

Hank Gathers, an American college basketball forward for LMU, died tragically at twenty-three years old.  He was driven from the time he grew up in Philadelphia, played for USC, and transfered to LMU to be the best ballplayer, the fastest runner, the lottery pick for the NBA draft.  It was this single-minded vision that catapulted him into the spotlight as a star player, and it was this same blind drive that caused him to chose performance over health in the long run. 

After being diagnosed with a heart muscle disorder, hypertropic cardiomyopathy, his doctor prescribed Gathers a beta blocker to regulate his heart.  The drug made Gathers sluggish, tired, and moody, but it kept him alive.  After trying to induce his doctors and his coaches to take him off the prescription drugs so that he could continue to perform as he had previously on the court to no avail, Gathers took it upon himself to decrease his dosage, ultimately leading to his collapse on the court and his death.  Sports fans and parents alike remember this March 4, 1990 game, in which a young life was cut short prematurely, but who do they blame?

Gathers' mother seemed to blame LMU and her son's doctors as she hired Bruce Fagel to file lawsuit against them both, seeking millions of dollars for her loss.  But who ultimately is responsible?  Gathers for failing to heed his doctor's advice?  The glitter of a professional career in sports?  In the end, the lesson that must be gleaned rom this tragedy rises and falls on society's need for the best and brightest of stars no matter the cost.

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January 17, 2011
Great review. No doubt, much of it is a result of society's need for superstar athletes but Hank loved basketball and really didn't understand the severity and potential danger of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Unfortunately, it also took the life of the Celtics' Reggie Lewis but ultimately spared the Clippers' Cuttino Mobley once doctors realized that it had progressed. So at the very least, others living with the same condition see these cases as an example and understand that life is more important than basketball. I'm just glad that Gathers is remembered as such a great athlete who genuinely loved the game. I just hope that we don't have any more of these tragic deaths.
July 22, 2010
Great approach to this article. You have things in here I've never heard before.
July 18, 2010
What a tragedy. This makes me think of the 30 year old MMA fighter Michael Kirkham who recently died after not heeding to doctor's orders. Ultimately, I think these two young athletes were driving themselves too hard, but I'm sure neither thought that it would be fatal. Let's hope athletes take these cases as examples of not to push themselves too hard.
July 18, 2010
It's a sad story. What do you think about it? Who do believe is responsible?
About the reviewer
Devon Cook ()
Ranked #307
I am a senior at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles California where I am persuing a degree in Englishliterature with a certificate in journalism. On my free time I practiceHapkido and jujitsu … more
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About this basketball player


Eric "Hank" Gathers (February 11, 1967, in Philadelphia – March 4, 1990 in Los Angeles) was an American college basketball star at Loyola Marymount University who collapsed and died during a game. He originally played at the University of Southern California, but transferred with teammate Bo Kimble to LMU after his freshman year. He was listed as 6'7" in height.
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