EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Hundreds of grieving students turned out Friday to mourn Southern Indiana center Jeron Lewis as a coroner said a heart condition may have caused the player's death after a game at Kentucky Wesleyan.
The 21-year-old Lewis collapsed on the court with about 4 minutes to go in Thursday night's game in Owensboro. He appeared to go through a series of convulsions before being taken to a hospital, where he died at about 10 p.m. He leaves behind a fiancee and a month-old son.
Daviess County Coroner Bob Howe said preliminary results from an autopsy showed Lewis had an enlarged heart. Fans reported seeing Lewis hit his head in the fall, but the coroner said he saw no evidence that played a role.
"He didn't even bruise his head," Howe said. "It looks like it's going to be a heart-related death."
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Howe said further testing remained to be done that would likely take about two weeks.
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff turned out to mourn Lewis on Friday at the school's gymnasium. The scoreboard flashed his picture while his white No. 40 jersey hung near a podium.
"Nothing can prepare you for anything like last night," university president Linda Bennett said.
Speaking in front of the crowd, first-year coach Rodney Watson said there had been no signs of health problems with Lewis, a 6-foot-8, 260-pound center. He had done well in workouts and had lost 40 pounds over the summer as part of a self-imposed workout regimen to get in shape for his senior season.
"He was the personality of our basketball team," Watson said as the scoreboard displayed a picture of Lewis and his framed jersey stood on a nearby podium. "If you saw us with a smile on our face it was because he said something."
His teammates remained in a state of shock a day later. Kevin Gant said he kept expecting Lewis to get up and walk back to the bench. Gant refused to sleep in the off-campus apartment the two shared with teammate Marvin Gray on Thursday night, and isn't sure when he'll be go back.
"It's too quiet without him," Gant said.