Longwood University star, NBA champion Jerome Kersey dead at 52

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FARMVILLE, Va. — Virginia native and former Longwood University basketball star Jerome Kersey died Wednesday. Kersey, who was from Mecklenburg County, was 52 years old.  Details surrounding his death have not been released. Kersey did have a public appearance Tuesday at a Portland, Oregon high school as part of an African American History Month program, ESPN reported. Kersey, who left Longwood in 1984, had a 17-year career in the National Basketball Association, most notably with the Portland Trail Blazers.

“We lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” Blazers owner Paul Allen said in a statement. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It’s a terrible loss.”

As a Portland Trail Blazer, Kersey played in two NBA Finals. He later won an NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.

While a senior at Longwood, Kersey was named the 1984 Division II National Player of the Year. He averaged 19.6 points and 14.2 rebounds per game. He is Longwood’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, rebounding average, made field goals, made free throws, free throw attempts, steals and blocks.

“Jerome embodied the ideal of the citizen-leadership at the heart of Longwood’s mission,” Longwood president W. Taylor Reveley IV said in a statement. “His athletic accomplishments are well noted, but what made him special was his commitment to serving his community. He devoted his life to serving those around him until the very day of his passing. That Jerome returned to Longwood to complete his degree in 2006 after spending nearly two decades in the NBA speaks volumes of his character. We are proud to have called him a Lancer.”

Kersey was inducted into the Longwood Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. His jersey number 54 was retired in Willett Hall.

“He played bigger than his size on the hardwood and carried that passion into his everyday life. The Longwood community has truly lost a legend,” Longwood director of athletics Troy Austin added.

Kersey is survived by his daughter Kiara, his wife Teri and her children McKenzie, Brendan and Maddie.