July 28, 1993

Reggie Lewis died of cardiac arrest while shooting baskets at Brandeis University. That Lewis’ death came three months after he collapsed during a playoff game at the Garden did not make the news less stunning.

Professional basketball players at the peak of their athletic lives are not supposed to die. Maybe there was a false hope that Lewis could overcome his ailment simply because he was a 27-year-old athlete.

He grew up in Baltimore but was considered a Bostonian after four years at Northeastern and his six seasons with the Celtics. After slumping to the parquet floor in the first game of a playoff series against Charlotte, Lewis was diagnosed with focal cardiomyopathy, which doctors considered a career-ending condition.

Lewis got a second opinion and was advised that he suffered from a condition with a less ominous outlook, leaving the door to his career open, if only by a crack.

The Celtics retired Lewis’ No. 35. Unlike the other retired numbers, No. 35 was retired for what might have been.

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