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You Tube Gold: Maurice Stokes

A player ahead of his time, Stokes’s life and career were tragically cut short by injury

Cincinnati Royals
1958: Maurice Stokes #12 of the Cincinnati Royals shoots a jump shot during a mock action portrait session in 1958. 
Photo by NBA Photo Library/NBAE via Getty Images

There are plenty of forgotten players in the NBA and most of them simply because they weren't that great.

From time to time though some guys are forgotten who really shouldn’t be and near the top of that list is Maurice Stokes.

He came out of St. Francis (PA) and was the #2 pick in the 1955 NBA draft. He averaged 26.5 rebounds as a sophomore and as a junior, he put up 27.1 points and 26.2 boards. It was a different time obviously, but that’s incredibly dominant.

He ended up with the Rochester Royals - that team has moved several times and is now the Sacramento Kings - and was superb. He was Rookie of the Year in 1955 and was an All-Star for three straight seasons.

Then tragedy struck. In 1958, in the last game of the season, Stokes landed on his neck and head and passed out. He came back into the game but three days later he had a seizure and was diagnosed with post-traumatic encephalopathy. He was permanently paralyzed.

Teammate Jack Twyman became his legal guardian and provided for him for the rest of his life, which ended at the age of 36.

The NBA honors the two of them with the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.

Here’s a documentary from ESPN about Stokes’s brilliant but tragically brief career. It’s well worth your time.