Maurice Stokes

Maurice Stokes
Maurice Stokes
No. 12
Power forward / Center
Personal information
Date of birth June 17, 1933(1933-06-17)
Place of birth Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Date of death April 6, 1970(1970-04-06) (aged 36)
Place of death Cincinnati, Ohio
High school Westinghouse (Pittsburgh)
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 232 lb (105 kg)
Career information
College St. Francis
NBA Draft 1955 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall
Selected by the Rochester Royals
Pro career 1955–1958
League NBA
Career history
19551958 Rochester / Cincinnati Royals
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 3,315 (16.4 ppg)
Rebounds 3,492 (17.3 rpg)
Assists 1,062 (5.3 apg)
Stats at
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Maurice Stokes (June 17, 1933 in – April 6, 1970) was an American professional basketball player in the 1950s, whose career was cut short by a debilitating injury. He was born in Rankin, Pennsylvania and graduated from Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania in 1955.[1]


NBA career

Playing for the National Basketball Association's Rochester Royals (which became the Cincinnati Royals in 1957) from 1955 to 1958, Stokes grabbed 38 rebounds in a single game during his rookie season, averaged 16.3 rebounds per game overall, and was named NBA Rookie of the Year. The next season, he set a league record for most rebounds in a single season with 1,256 (17.4 per game). Stokes played in the All-Star Game all three years of his career, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team three times. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in September 2004.

Injury and illness

On March 12, 1958 in the last game of the 1957–58 NBA season, in Minneapolis, Stokes drove to the basket, drew contact and fell to the floor, hit his head, and was knocked unconscious. He was revived with smelling salts and returned to the game. Three days later, after a 12-point, 15-rebound performance in an opening-round playoff game at Detroit against the Pistons, Stokes became ill on the team's flight back to Cincinnati; "I feel like I'm going to die," he told a teammate. Stokes' head injury was greatly aggravated by airplane cabin pressure during the flight back to Cincinnati; he later suffered a seizure, fell into a coma and was left permanently paralyzed. In the end, he was diagnosed with "post-traumatic encephalopathy, a brain injury that damaged his motor control center."[2]

The tragedy greatly shook the team: Stokes, a tremendous talent who could play center, forward and guard, was second in the NBA in rebounds and third in assists in 1957-58, a feat only Wilt Chamberlain has matched for a full season. Without their best player, the Royals nearly folded; they eventually moved to Kansas City and then to Sacramento.

During the years that followed, Stokes was supported by his lifelong friend and teammate Jack Twyman.


Twelve years after his coma, Stokes died in Cincinnati, Ohio of a heart attack on April 6, 1970; he was 36. At his own request, Stokes was buried in a cemetery on the campus of Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. His story was made into the film Maurie in 1973.[3]


Twyman helped Stokes after his stroke by organizing an exhibition doubleheader in 1958 that raised $10,000 to help pay Stokes' expenses. That game became an annual tradition, spearheaded by Milton Kutsher[2] and held at the Kutsher's Hotel in Monticello, New York or at their camp, the Kutsher's Sports Academy. It was simply called The Maurice Stokes Game and included many of the NBA players. The tradition continues to this day "to raise funds for needy former players from the game's earlier days."[4] but instead of an off-season basketball game, per NBA and insurance company restrictions regarding the athletes,[5] it is the Maurice Stokes/Wilt Chamberlain Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament.[6][7] Stokes's life and injury and relationship with former Royals teammate Twyman all are depicted in the 1973 National General Pictures film Maurie.

The Stokes Athletics Center

The Stokes Athletics Center

The Stokes Athletics Center on the campus of the Saint Francis University is named in honor of him.

See also

  • List of NCAA Division I men's basketball players with 30 or more rebounds in a game


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Maurice Stokes — (* 17. Juni 1933 in Rankin, Pennsylvania; † 6. April 1970 in Cincinnati, Ohio) war ein US amerikanischer Basketballspieler. Zwischen 1955 und 1958 spielte er in der NBA für die Mannschaft der Rochester Royals/Cincinnati Royals. Stokes war… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Maurice Stokes — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Stokes. Maurice Stokes …   Wikipédia en Français

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