ATHENS, Ga. -- Alec Kessler, a Georgia star who played four seasons for the Miami Heat before becoming an orthopedic surgeon, died after collapsing during a pickup game. He was 40.
He appeared to have had a heart attack Saturday in Pensacola, Fla., and was pronounced dead a short time later at Gulf Breeze Hospital, the university said Sunday.
Kessler, 6-foot-11, was the captain of Georgia's 1990 Southeastern Conference championship team and became a first-round NBA draft pick.
When Kessler enrolled at Georgia in 1985, he was a little-known recruit with few offers from Division I schools. After a redshirt season, he spent one year as a backup before blossoming for the Bulldogs.
During his senior season, Georgia won its only SEC basketball title. In his last college game, Kessler became the Bulldogs' career scoring leader with 1,788 points, a mark surpassed the following year by Litterial Green.
Kessler was drafted No. 12 overall by the Houston Rockets, who promptly traded him to Miami. During his time with the Heat, he averaged 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds. After leaving the NBA he began a career in medicine.
"The thing I remember with Alec was he was so absorbed with his future," Heat trainer Ron Culp told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "He always sat in the back of the airplane and the entire plane would be darkened except for Alec, and he would always be reading his medical books."
"It didn't matter if he had played that night," Culp added. "And he would always be coming in the training room and questioning the training staff and medical staff and our doctors."
Kessler was an orthopedic surgeon in Pensacola. He graduated from Georgia with a microbiology degree and from the Emory School of Medicine in 1999.
Kessler, whose brother Chad played at Georgia from 1984-87, is survived by his wife, Rhea, and sons Nicholas and Christopher.
The Associated Press News Service
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