Jerome Kersey, one of the all-time greats of the Portland Trail Blazers, died on Feb. 18 of a pulmonary embolism caused by blood clots in his lungs. He was 52 years old.
Kersey, a native of Clarksville, Virginia, was taken as the 46th overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft out of the tiny Longwood College (now Longwood University), which was then a Division II school.
Over the following 11 seasons, Kersey became an integral part of the Trail Blazers, playing big minutes in two NBA Finals appearances. In the 1995 expansion draft, as the importance of his role on the Trail Blazers was diminishing, Kersey was taken by the newly formed Toronto Raptors.
He didn’t play any games with the Raptors, and spent the next six seasons jumping from Golden State to Los Angeles to Seattle, before finally landing with San Antonio, where he won the championship of the ’98-’99 season. He spent his last season in Milwaukee, but without a doubt made his mark with Trail Blazer franchise.
After retiring from the game, Kersey worked in various different fields, ranging from NBA assistant coaching to auto wholesaling. This year, he was slated to receive the William Henry Ruffner Alumni Award, which is given annually to a Longwood alumnus.
As news of his death spread, former teammates and coaches all expressed their sorrow, remembering him as one of the most beloved players on the team everywhere he went.
The Trail Blazers will be wearing “JK25” patches on their jerseys for the remainder of the season.
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2018.