Hank Gathers: Forever Young

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The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

A.E. Houseman ‘To An Athlete Dying Young’

For twenty springs, I have remembered the man, the moment and his memory. Embracing who he was and what he meant to a neighborhood, a city and a university. Every year I seem to hold on a little tighter.

I hold on because I can’t let go of Hank Gathers.

Eric “Hank” Gathers was a comet – explosive, radiant and inspiring to the point where you stood and marveled at his brilliance.

Suddenly before you knew it, like that comet – Hank was gone.

Named for his boyhood hero Hank Aaron, (hence the number 44), Gathers was a player who could turn teammates into spectators as he was the fuel in Loyala Marymount’s rocket floor attack. In 1989, Gathers had the entire nation watching as he became the second player in the modern NCAA to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season.

If Rocky Balboa is Philadelphia’s story, Hank Gathers is North Philadelphia’s Story. A place where dreams abound as does failure. Here the snares of life occur more frequently than most places. To make i through this concrete minefield, you’d better come from a strong home, have strong people in your corner and have an even stronger heart.

Gathers had all of the above – especially heart.

“Happy is the son whose faith in

12 Responses to “Hank Gathers: Forever Young”

  1. Mizzo says:

    Damn…this is excellent!

  2. Miranda says:

    Its so hard to believe this was 20 years ago. wow.

  3. Patrick says:

    I do wonder how the NBA landscape would be if Len Bias and Hank Gathers were playing during the early 1990’s.

    Hank was 6’7, and had a low post game similar to Carlos Boozer. There was an interview with Bryant Gumbel, and Gumbel asked both Bo Kimble and Hank if you were able to chose the NBA or a career in broadcasting, what would you choose? Hank had said he would like to play at least ONE year in the NBA. With Hank’s existing heart concerns, he may have known that his NBA career was limited, but was hoping to play a few years .

    Gathers, a Communications major at LMU, was a well-spoken young man and I think he would have eventually become a network basketball analyst.

    Here’s the 1990 interview with Today show host Bryant Gumbel:

  4. Mizzo says:

    Thanks for the link Patrick. I can’t watch it yet. Still hurts big time.

  5. KevDog says:

    Great work Ron.

    The poem by Houseman is one of my favorites and one I find myself refeencing frequently as I teach my Step-son about literature and life in general.

    I too have buried a brother, I was 11 he was 18. A man to me then, just a boy now. I sometimes weep at the life he never had the chance to experience.

    Gathers’ death was shocking to me. I grew up in LA and dated a girl from there when I was 16 and took the MCAT there so I always followed the team and Gathers was a can’t miss Pro. Such a tragedy felt still.

  6. Ron Glover says:

    It’s tough deep on many levels. ESPN is doing this 30 at 30 series and they’re doing a piece on LMU and Gathers in early April.

    Those tears that you shed for your brother I shed for my dad, he passed when I was 20, never got to see his grandkids born, the things that we cherish.

    Life is strange like that.

  7. […] stood alone, after all as junior he had lost in the Championship game to Dobbins Tech led by Hank Gathers and Bo […]

  8. […] have to go through a Loyola Marymount team that was fully inspired by the death of their leader Hank Gathers. The Rebels would go on to defeat the Lions by 30 points to once again reach the Final Four. Vegas […]

  9. Fantastic stuff as always, man.

    Here’s a similar take from another huge Hank Gathers fan.

    http://sportschump.net/2010/07/08/remembering-hank-gathers-video/4056/

  10. […] have to go through a Loyola Marymount team that was fully inspired by the death of their leader Hank Gathers. The Rebels would go on to defeat the Lions by 30 points to once again reach the Final Four. Vegas […]

  11. […] have to go through a Loyola Marymount team that was fully inspired by the death of their leader Hank Gathers. The Rebels would go on to defeat the Lions by 30 points to once again reach the Final Four. Vegas […]