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Former NBA star Orlando Woolridge dies at 52 - Jun 2, 2012


POSTED BY:
EUROBASKET NEWS
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Orlando
Woolridge
Although Orlando Woolridge's (6'9''-F-59) life came to a premature end just before midnight Thursday, it's tough to say the former basketball sensation was cheated.

The Bernice native, 52, who died at his parents' Mansfield home where he'd been under hospice care for a chronic heart condition, was a superstar at Mansfield High, graduated from the University of Notre Dame, played with both Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan during his 13 seasons in the NBA and earned induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame two years ago.

The sharp-shooting 6-foot-9, 215-pounder was a first-round selection (sixth overall) of the Chicago Bulls in 1981.

'He was a complete player,' Digger Phelps, Woolridge's coach with the Fighting Irish, told The Times.

Phelps took the somber news that spread quickly Friday particularly hard.

'You go in a home to recruit and there was one thing I always promised the parents: 'Your son is going to graduate from Notre Dame. As far as the NBA, he's going to have to earn it.'

'In 20 years of coaching, I had 56 guys play for me and 56 guys got their degrees - about 20 went on to play in the NBA. He's the first guy I've lost. At 52, to have him die, it's like losing a son. It's hit me hard.'

Woolridge is survived by his children, Zachary, Renaldo and Tiana; parents, Mattie and Larnceen; sister, Dr. Vanessa Woolridge Duplessis; brother-in-law, Darren Duplessis; and nephew, Nigel Duplessis.

In addition to his successes, Woolridge battled personal demons throughout his life. He was suspended for the 1987-88 season by the NBA for substance abuse and was arrested in February on a charge of theft of more than $1,500 for allegedly stealing aluminum lines used to transfer water to natural gas drilling sites.

A cousin to NBA legend and fellow Bernice native Willis Reed, Woolridge scored 3,036 points (22.0 per game) and grabbed 1,945 rebounds (14 per game) in his prep career, including averages of 21 points and 25 rebounds as a senior at Mansfield he played his first three seasons at nearby All Saints High School.

Woolridge enrolled at Notre Dame in 1977, and by the time he was a senior, was a captain for the Fighting Irish.

A key figure during the NBA's slam-dunk era, Woolridge averaged 22.9 points per game during Jordan's rookie season (1984-85). The duo averaged more than 51 points for the Bulls that year.

Courtesy of www.shreveporttimes.com   




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