27 years old, American, athlete, basketball, Boston Celtics, Celebrity, Charlotte Hornets, collapsed, dizzy, focal cardiomyopathy, heart muscle causes irregular heart beat or heart failure, neurocardiogenic syncope, off season practice, playoff, Reggie Lewis, return to work, second opinion, sudden cardiac death
Reggie Lewis (November 21, 1965 – July 27, 1993)
Boston Celtics captain Reggie Lewis was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Northeastern University in Boston. Lewis was drafted in the first round, 22nd pick overall, by the Boston Celtics in the 1987 NBA Draft.
On April 29, 1993, in a playoff game against the Charlotte Hornets, Lewis suddenly collapsed on the court and remained on the ground for several seconds. After he finally got up, he looked perplexed and dazed as he headed to the Celtics bench. Lewis returned briefly to the game later, but was eventually pulled due to dizziness and shortness of breath. He left the contest having scored 17 points in 13 minutes of action in what turned out to be his final NBA game. The following day, Lewis checked into New England Baptist Hospital, where he underwent a series of tests by more then a dozen heart specialists, who the Celtics called their “dream team” of doctors. Lewis was diagnosed with “focal cardiomyopathy”, a disease of the heart muscle that can cause irregular heartbeat and heart failure. Lewis was told his condition was most likely career-ending. However, he later sought a second opinion from Dr. Gilbert Mudge at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who diagnosed Lewis with neurocardiogenic syncope, a less serious non-fatal condition instead. As a result, Lewis began working out in preparation for returning for the 1994 season. Mudge was later cleared of any wrongdoing, and he insisted he had never authorized Lewis to resume workouts. On July 27, 1993, during an off-season practice at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, Lewis suffered sudden cardiac death on the basketball court. He was 27 years old. James Crowley, a Brandeis University police officer who happened upon the gym on a routine patrol, and another Brandeis University police officer attempted to revive Lewis by using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but they were unsuccessful.
His no. 35 jersey was retired by the Celtics as a memorial to him, making him one of only two Celtics to have a retired number without winning a championship. (The other was Ed Macauley, who did win a championship with the St. Louis Hawks in 1958.)