‘Nothing was done to save his life’ — Mother files lawsuit after death of Grand Rapids Drive player

Posted at 7:15 PM, May 30, 2018

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The mother of Zeke Upshaw, a Grand Rapids Drive basketball player who died after a sudden cardiac event (SEC) in March, says the wrongful death lawsuit she filed against the NBA and Grand Rapids Drive is not only for her family, but to bring awareness and change policies to save lives in the future. 

Jewel Upshaw and her attorneys, Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard, announced the lawsuit Wednesday morning on the steps on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the NBA, Grand Rapids Drive, SSJ Group, LLC, and the DeltaPlex Arena. The lawsuit claims gross negligence and poor policies led to the death of 26-year-old Zeke Upshaw. 

"Nothing was done to save his life," said Jewel Upshaw in a phone interview with FOX 17 News.

Upshaw says she watched Grand Rapids Drive's final game of the season live. With forty seconds left, her son collapsed face-first on the basketball court. A sudden cardiac event led to his death in the hospital two days later. 

"Seeing his face all over and having to bury him, and go through his pictures and memories; all of that just crushes me because he was so full of life," said Upshaw. "And he really deserved a rapid response, one he did not receive." 

Upshaw and her attorneys said the case isn't just about what happened to her son, it's about bringing awareness to SCE and helping families who will inevitably have to deal with this in the future. 

Attorney Ben Crump said a video taken during the time of Upshaw's collapse shows no life-saving measures were taken while he laid on the court, saying nobody performed CPR or used an AED to save his life. Crump says the 26-year-old was taken to the hospital and went nearly 45 minutes without oxygen. 

"There needs to be policies in place where there is immediate, appropriate medical response," said Crump. "The NBA is the most visible institution in basketball, and if they'll implement new policy, then it will have a trickle down effect to the NCAA, even high school and middle school programs. 

The Grand Rapids Drive and DeltaPlex Arena have declined to comment on the lawsuit. The Detroit Pistons did not respond as of news time.