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Mother of late G League player files wrongful death suit against NBA

The mother of late NBA G League player Zeke Upshaw, who collapsed on-court during a game, is suing the NBA, alleging that it mishandled treatment by failing to implement any lifesaving measures.

Upshaw, 26, fell face-down on the floor in the final minute of a game, experiencing what was later deemed a “sudden cardiac death.” His mother, Jewel, is filing a wrongful death suit alleging that her son’s death came “as a direct result of the negligence of the Defendants named in this litigation.”

“Zeke Upshaw, improperly attended, was left to lie unconscious on the hardwood, in his team’s full uniform, slowly dying as his otherwise healthy heart sat, unbeating in his chest,” the suit explains. “A heart that likely only needed a compression series, or a charged delivery from a defibrillator, to begin to pound again and to pump blood and life back into Zeke Upshaw. However, according to witnesses, no one ever attempted to revive him.”

No emergency action plan in place? 

According to the suit, before moved off on a stretcher, Upshaw lay on the court for four minutes; Upshaw’s brain was then deprived of oxygen for another 40. It also says that the timely use of a defibrillator may have restarted his heart.

Upshaw died after two days in the hospital. 

“When the otherwise healthy heart of a professional NBA athlete suddenly stops during a game there is absolutely no reason, in 2018, that his heart cannot be immediately restarted,” said attorney Bob Hilliard at news conference in New York Wednesday. “No attempts were made to save Zeke Upshaw’s life. No CPR, no defibrillation, nothing.”

The NBA, the Detroit Pistons Basketball Company and SSJ Group, owners of the Grand Rapids Drive, and the Deltaplex Arena (where the game took place) are listed as defendants in the suit.

Upshaw, a 6-foot-6 swingman who spent two years with the Grand Rapids Drive after playing in college at both Illinois State and Hofstra, and in Europe, was given an honorary call-up to the team’s parent Detroit Pistons three days after his death.