Clifford Rozier, a former All-American at Louisville who became a first round NBA Draft pick, died Friday after suffering a heart attack, according to a family post on social media. He was 45.
"For the last few days my brother big Cliff been fighting for his life after having a heart attack," his brother, Kobie Rozier, wrote on his Facebook account Friday afternoon. "Today he lost his fight. Rest easy big bro and I’ll see you again one day."
Rozier, a 6-foot-11 center out of Bradenton, Fla., signed with North Carolina out of Southeast High in 1990, but transferred to Louisville after one year. At Louisville under Coach Denny Crum he posted two outstanding seasons averaging a double-double each year with 15.7 points and 10.9 rebounds in 1992-93 and 18.1 points and 11.1 rebounds in 1993-94.
From there, he was selected as the 16th overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. His NBA career lasted four seasons with three teams. His best year came as a rookie with the Warriors when he averaged 6.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
After leaving pro basketball, Rozier lost his fortune and became addicted to drugs. His ordeal, which included a diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder was brought to light in a 2010 story by Chris Anderson for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Then 37, Rozier lived in a halfway house and said he'd come to terms with his life.
“You talk about the NBA, but you forget one thing,” Rozier told Anderson. “I worked to get there. Nobody just put me there and said, ‘Hey you’re in the NBA now and I think you owe me one.’
“There’s nothing you can take from me. Whatever happens in my life, I’m content."