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Mother of Zeke Upshaw, G League player who died, sues NBA, Pistons

Jewel Upshaw, left, and attorney Ben Crump, second

Jewel Upshaw, left, and attorney Ben Crump, second from left, at a news conference in front of the court in New York on May 30, 2018, announcing a lawsuit in the death of Zeke Upshaw, Jewel's son, a 26-year-old player for a NBA G League team who collapsed and died during a game. Photo Credit: AP / Seth Wenig

DETROIT — The mother of a G League basketball player who died in March after collapsing on the court during a game has filed a lawsuit accusing the NBA and the Detroit Pistons of negligence.

Zeke Upshaw, who had played at Hofstra University, played for the Grand Rapids Drive, a G League affiliate of the Pistons. He collapsed during a game at Grand Rapids on March 24 and died two days later.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The NBA and Pistons are named as defendants, along with SSJ Group and The DeltaPlex Arena.

The lawsuit alleges that medical personnel at the game failed to attempt lifesaving measures in a timely fashion.

"Remarkably, for much longer than four full minutes, no cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was initiated, no chest compressions were started, no oxygen mask was placed on his nose and mouth, no airway was cleared and secured, and no defibrillator sensors and electric delivery patches were attached and secured to Zeke's chest," the suit says.

The suit also says the defendants failed to provide the G League team "the resources, policies, and procedures reasonably necessary" to prevent or handle Upshaw's collapse.

The NBA, the Pistons and the Drive did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

A medical examiner in March determined Zeke Upshaw, a swingman for the Detroit Pistons’ G League affiliate, suffered a “sudden cardiac death” after collapsing on the court.

Upshaw came to Hofstra as a graduate student in 2013-14 with a degree in apparel, merchandising and design from Illinois State. He had averaged only 2.5 points in his senior year at Illinois State, but with a year of eligibility remaining, he became the Colonial Athletic Association’s leading scorer with a 19.8 average. Upshaw scored 655 points for Hofstra that season after scoring 100 in three seasons at Illinois State.

Upshaw was undrafted and played internationally in Slovenia and Luxembourg. He spent most of the last two seasons with the Drive, appearing in 75 games primarily as a reserve and averaging 7.6 points.

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