Clippers alum Sean Rooks’ death raises heart disease awareness

LA Clippers, NBA, Adam Silver Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
LA Clippers, NBA, Adam Silver Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite a tragic death before age 50, former Los Angeles Clippers center Sean Rooks impacted the NBA’s outlook on heart issues in retired players.

An unverified private twitter account with the name and number of NBA journeyman center Sean Rooks also features visible pictures and quotes from the late Muhammad Ali.

If this account dated back to 2011 is Rooks’, it is ironic considering both men died within a few a days of each other. Nonetheless, both men left a legacy that extended beyond their professional sports career.

Only a few days from the NBA morning the loss of Ali, former Clippers center Rooks became the latest NBA big-man to die of heart disease.

Within the past 18 months, former NBA players who died from a heart attack before sixty included: center Moses Malone, forward Darryl Dawkins, center Jack Haley and forward Anthony Mason.

Still, Rooks’ death shocked the NBA world as the 14-year-pro center turned 76ers assistant coach had just completed an interview for a position on the New York Knicks coaching staff. The Vertical also reported that Rooks received an offer to become the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets D-League affiliate.

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Unfortunately, Rooks never got to finish his promising coaching career. He suffered a heart attack at a restaurant after his interview with the Knicks. TMZ Sports reported that Rooks’ death was caused by heart disease.

If anything good comes from this tragic death it will be the awareness of heart disease in NBA alumni.

Heart issues in retired NBA players grabbed the Commissioner’s attention.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on Rooks death:

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family. His tragic death due to heart disease is yet another reminder of why cardiac health and screening remains an extremely high priority for the league, the Players Association and the Retired Players Association.”

The Undefeated also quoted some of these NBA alumni on heart issues taking the lives of their fellow basketball fraternity members.

Former NBA center Kevin Willis on Rooks’ death:

"“All of these guys are dying because of something with the heart. Every one of them. It’s bananas.”"

Added, Golden State Warriors assistant Jarron Collins said it was sad.

“It’s definitely disturbing when guys seem to be healthy and just pass way too soon,” Collins said via The Undefeated.

Current NBA player Marreese Speights also opened up about the death. The 6-foot-10, 255-pounder believes in the NBA’s new technology.

“Nowadays they do a lot of testing before you get on the court,” Speights said to The Undefeated. “…Back in the day when those guys were playing, they probably never had any of that stuff, so they probably never knew.”

This new technology includes stress tests for players and routine drug screenings.

The association did their first cardiac screening last year, and will have another one very soon. The association has improved their screenings over the past ten years, according to The Undefeated.

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However, NBA alumni are not the only ones plagued by this disease. Deaths from heart complications remain the leading cause of death in America, with higher percentages among Black men and women.

Ultimately, Rooks’ death could become a lasting factor in raising awareness about heart conditions.

Michele Roberts, the executive director of the players union, said the Players Association will educate former players about their hearts.

“The news about Sean underscores how significant an issue this is and fuels our desire to keep folks talking about and listening to the need to prevent this from taking more lives well before their time,” Roberts told The Undefeated.

As for the former Clipper’s legacy on the basketball court, check out this tribute from the NBA.

Rooks legacy with the Clippers includes three seasons from 2000-03. Rooks only made 48 career starts Los Angeles. He averaged 4.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17 minutes per game over his three-year tenure with the Clippers.

Nonetheless, the organization remembered him.

Former teammate Corey Maggette also remembered him.

Many Clippers fans may remember Rooks for his mention in Bill Walton telecasts.

Otherwise, Clippers fans may remember him as a local Fontana, Calif. native.

You may even remember him as a member of the other Los Angeles NBA team.

Either way, it is clear Rooks had a greater impact on the basketball world than his career stats would suggest.

Hopefully, the former-Clippers center’s death will help raise awareness for heart conditions in and outside of the NBA. Maybe the NBA’s elevated conscience on heart disease will prevent more players from dying too soon.

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If you have any memories of Sean Rooks as a Clippers big, then share them with us on Twitter or in the comments.