Who is Zeke Upshaw and how is his death intertwined with the NBA team Detroit Pistons? All you need to know

Zeke Upshaw
Zeke Upshaw tragically passed away while playing basketball (Image via Getty Images)

Zeke Upshaw was a young talented player who tragically passed away while playing basketball. Upshaw played professionally overseas, but his last season was in the NBA Development League, now known as the NBA G League.

Upshaw's demise shook the entire world and many basketball fans and players were shocked. Despite having a great performance and being in the best shape of his life, the basketball player simply collapsed on the floor and died shortly after.

This tragic death caused a lot of other issues and Zeke's mother, Jewel, filed a lawsuit against both the NBA and the Detroit Pistons. Here is everything you need to know about it.

Zeke Upshaw's career and demise

At the time of his tragic death, Zeke played for the Grand Rapids Drive, the team that was affiliated with the Detroit Pistons in the NBA. The young player declared for the 2014 NBA draft, but went undrafted.

After going undrafted, Upshaw decided to play overseas, signing a contract with the Helios Suns in Slovenia. After one season with the team, Zeke played for a team in Luxembourg, before returning to the United States.

Zeke played for the Hofstra Pride in college (Image via Getty Images)
Zeke played for the Hofstra Pride in college (Image via Getty Images)

In his first season with Grand Rapids Drive, the 6-foot-6 forward averaged 6.5 points while playing mostly off the bench. He increased his scoring to 8.5 points per game in the second season, appearing in 41 games.

You may be interested in reading: G-League player Zeke Upshaw dies two days after collapsing on the court

Unfortunately, his last game for the Drive was fatal. Upshaw scored 11 points, helping his team beat the Long Island Nets and advance to the playoffs. However, he collapsed to the floor with under a minute left in the game.


Two days later, the talented basketball player died from a cardiac arrest, which was a massive tragedy. Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of it as his family filed a lawsuit against several organizations.

Upshaw's mother filed lawsuit against NBA and Detroit Pistons

Two months after her son's death, Zeke Upshaw's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NBA, the Detroit Pistons, and the SSJ Group, which owned the NBA Development team at the league.

Read: Mother of G League player who died sues NBA, Pistons

"It's a strange feeling," Jewel Upshaw, Zeke's mother said. "It's not going to bring him back, but it allows me to carry on his legacy."
The Detroit Pistons were included in the lawsuit as well (Image via Getty Images)
The Detroit Pistons were included in the lawsuit as well (Image via Getty Images)

The lawsuit argued that the team staff were not adequately trained to recognize the heart attack and correctly react to it. Considering that the Grand Rapids Drive was affiliated with the Detroit Pistons at the time, the lawsuit included the NBA team as well.

In July 2019, more than a year after the tragic death of Zeke Upshaw, the lawsuit was settled. However, its terms were not disclosed to the public.

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