|Born||May 27, 1991|
|Died||March 26, 2018 (aged 26)|
Grand Rapids, Michigan
|Listed height||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Listed weight||215 lb (98 kg)|
|High school||U. of Chicago Laboratory Schools|
|NBA draft||2014 / Undrafted|
|2016–2018||Grand Rapids Drive|
|Career highlights and awards|
Zena Ray "Zeke" Upshaw (May 27, 1991 – March 26, 2018) was an American professional basketball player. He began his college basketball career with the Illinois State Redbirds. After playing sparingly for three seasons, Upshaw transferred to join the Hofstra Pride, where he led the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in scoring and was named second-team all-conference. He played professionally overseas in Slovenia and Luxembourg before returning to the U.S. and joining the Grand Rapids Drive in the NBA Development League, known later as the NBA G League. In the Drive's regular season finale in 2017–18, Upshaw collapsed on the court in the game's final minute. He died two days later.
High school career
Upshaw was born in Chicago. As a child, he gravitated toward basketballs at Toys "R" Us over all the other toys in the store. He began playing organized basketball when he was six. Upshaw attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools where he averaged 24 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as a junior in 2008, when he was named the most valuable player (MVP) of the Independent School League.
After redshirting his first year at Illinois State University (ISU), Upshaw played three years for the Redbirds, albeit with minimal playing time. He averaged 1.6 points per game, while never averaging more than 7.4 minutes played per game. He graduated from Illinois State with a degree in apparel, merchandising and design in 2013, but transferred to Hofstra for his final season of NCAA eligibility. Upshaw exercised the graduate transfer exception, which enables players who have already received their degree but have eligibility remaining to be able to play immediately at another school while studying for a post-graduate degree in a discipline that was not available in their previous school. He was seeking a school where he could be an "impact player and have an opportunity to [play professionally] overseas or somewhere."
After receiving his release from ISU, Upshaw was originally recruited by Niagara coach Joe Mihalich. However, the coach left soon for Hofstra, where he told Upshaw the opportunity to play was even higher because four players had been kicked off the team after a burglary incident. On January 15, 2014, Upshaw scored 27 points and tied a Pride record with seven three-pointers in a 69–64 win over UNC-Wilmington. He led the CAA in scoring at 19.8 points per game, and earned second-team All-CAA honors. His 17.3 points per game increase over his 2.5 average from 2012–13 was the largest increase in Division I.
After going undrafted in the 2014 NBA draft, he passed on the option to enter the NBA Development League Draft. Instead, he signed with Helios Suns of the Premier A Slovenian Basketball League in September 2014. In 30 games for Helios in 2014–15, he averaged 9.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
After deciding to enter the 2016 NBA Development League Draft, Upshaw was selected in the fourth round by the Grand Rapids Drive. In 34 games for the Drive in 2016–17, he averaged 6.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.
On March 24, 2018, Upshaw scored 11 points in the regular-season finale to earn a playoff spot for Grand Rapids in a 101–99 home win over the Long Island Nets. In the game's final minute, however, he collapsed and was taken off the court at DeltaPlex Arena on a stretcher. Two days later on March 26, he died in Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the age of 26. The Kent County medical examiner's preliminary determination after conducting an autopsy was that Upshaw suffered a "sudden cardiac death." Out of respect for Upshaw, the NBA G League delayed the first round of the 2018 playoffs, while the Detroit Pistons gave him an honorary call-up to the team on March 29 for their game against the Washington Wizards.
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- Kindred, Randy (March 29, 2013). "Upshaw Moving On From Redbirds". The Pantagraph – via Newspapers.com.
- Kieran, Darcy (January 26, 2014). "Hofstra reboot required more than Pride". ESPN.com.
- Hamilton, Brian (January 31, 2014). "Hofstra's Upshaw makes huge leap thanks to graduate transfer rule". SI.com. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
- DeCourcy, Mike (January 30, 2014). "After years of DNPs, Hofstra's Upshaw takes pride in being nation's most improved". Sporting News.
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- "Zeke Upshaw scores 27 to lead Pride win". Newsday. January 15, 2014.
- Kussoy, Howie (January 24, 2014). "Mihalich, Upshaw return Pride to Hofstra basketball". New York Post.
- Marcus, Steven (March 26, 2018). "Former Hofstra player Zeke Upshaw dies after collapsing in NBA G League game". Newsday.
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- LeTourneau, Nicholas (December 29, 2016). "Zeke Upshaw Is Poised To Take The D-League By Storm". Ridiculous Upside.
- "Zeke Upshaw tretji Američan pri Heliosu". delo.si (in Slovenian). September 3, 2014. Archived from the original on March 28, 2018.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
- "Basket Esch adds Upshaw to their roster, ex Helios". Eurobasket.com. August 17, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
- Smith, Duncan (October 31, 2016). "Grand Rapids Drive complete 2016-17 NBA D-League draft". pistonpowered.com. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
- Wallner, Peter J. (October 31, 2016). "Meet Grand Rapids Drive's six selections from NBA D-League draft". MLive.com. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
- "Zeke Upshaw G-League Stats". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
- "Former Illinois State player under doctors' care after collapses during NBA G League game". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. March 25, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Doyle, Ricky (March 26, 2018). "NBA Community Shows Love For G League Player Who Died After On-Court Collapse". NESN.com.
- Ward-Henninger, Colin (March 26, 2018). "Zeke Upshaw dies after collapsing during NBA G League game". CBSSports.com. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
- Hendrix, Leon (March 27, 2018). "ME: Drive player collapse was a 'sudden cardiac death'". WOODTV.com. Archived from the original on March 28, 2018.
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