Atlanta Hawks center Collier dies at 28

Sunday, October 16, 2005

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Hawks center Jason Collier died early Saturday after he had trouble breathing and was stricken in his home, his father said. He was 28.

General manager Billy Knight said the cause of death was not immediately clear for the 7-foot, 260-pound player. He said Collier had "no issues" in a preseason physical given to all players.

Jeff Collier told The Associated Press his son died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital and did not have any diagnosed health problems apart from his knees.

Team spokesman Arthur Triche initially said Collier possibly died of cardiac arrest, but would not provide details. He later said the team was not sure how Collier died. Collier's agent, Richard Howell, said an autopsy was being performed.

"We'll wait until the experts can tell us, but there's no comments about any speculating at all that I'm going to do," Knight said. "Right now we just think about Jason and his family, his wife and a daughter. He was a good guy, a great teammate and a member of our organization. We're going to miss him.

"The players took it hard, as you would expect," Knight told the AP. "We'll try to deal with it and keep moving forward."

The Hawks canceled an open scrimmage Saturday, but will play an exhibition game Monday night at Charlotte.

"We are saddened by the news of Jason Collier's sudden passing," NBA commissioner David Stern said. "He epitomized hard work, dedication and perseverance, and more importantly compassion, kindness and selflessness."

Jeff Collier said he received a phone call at 3:30 a.m. Saturday from Jason's wife, Katie, who said her husband was having trouble breathing and quickly turned blue.

"You get a call and it's your daughter-in-law crying saying she's giving him CPR and trying to keep him going," Jeff Collier said. "I guess it took a while for the paramedics to get there. He had a slight pulse when they took him and he passed away in the ambulance while they took him to the hospital.

"We don't know exactly what happened. I'm anxious to find out. But I guess it doesn't make a whole lot of difference at this point."

Howell said his client was in good shape.

He said Collier and his wife ate dinner at a restaurant Friday night and then returned home, where Collier spent time playing with his daughter.

"He started feeling real bad in the middle of the night," said Howell, who spoke with Collier's wife.

"It's just very sad," Howell said. "I'm totally stunned and devastated."

Collier started 44 games last season for Atlanta, averaging 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13.5 minutes.

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