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Portland Trail Blazers great, Tualatin resident Jerome Kersey dies at 52

Kersey and his family had lived in Tualatin for several years


As a professional basketball player, former Trail Blazers star Jerome Kersey found a longterm home in Portland.

But in his post-basketball professional life, Kersey chose to make his home in Tualatin.

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jerome and Teri KerseyKersey, a starter during the second great Blazers era (he played in Portland from 1984-95 and helped the Blazers reach the NBA finals in both 1990 and ‘92), died on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at age 52.

According to the state medical examiner’s office, Kersey — employed by the Trail Blazers as Director of Alumni Relations in the team’s Social Responsibility Department — died due to a blood clot that traveled from his left calf to his lungs and caused a pulmonary thromboembolism.

His passing kindled a flurry of tributes from former teammates, coworkers, fans and many others.

“It is so sad,” former teammate Clyde Drexler told Comcast SportsNet Northwest. “It is a huge loss for the Portland community. He was the greatest guy, the nicest friend, teammate and brother. He was loved by everyone. We will all miss him. He just cared so much. This is unbelievable.”

“Today, we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” said Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It’s a terrible loss.”

While many initial remembrances of Kersey focused on his long NBA career, it was during his post-playing career that Kersey settled in Tualatin with his wife Teri and their family. Kersey’s family includes four children, daughters Kiara, McKenzie and Maddie, and son Brendan.

Together, they made Tualatin — also the location of the Trail Blazers practice facility — their home, and sadly, it was there, at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin, that Jerome Kersey also died.

Kersey, a small forward, and Drexler, a shooting guard, were two of the five starters on those great early-90s Blazers teams, that pair joined in the starting rotation by Terry Porter at point guard, Buck Williams at power forward and Kevin Duckworth at center. Duckworth preceded Kersey in death, dying of heart failure on Aug. 25, 2008

While Kersey’s best Blazers teams fell short of their ultimate goal — winning an NBA championship — Kersey and his running mates played their way into the Blazers’ record books and into Portland fans’ hearts. The Blazers lost to the Detroit Pistons in five games in the 1990 NBA finals (a result that marked the Pistons’ second straight NBA crown) and fell to the Chicago Bulls in six games in 1992 (resulting in the second of Chicago’s three straight NBA titles).

Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO - Former Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey, who played for 11 seasons with Portland, died Tuesday at a Tualatin hospital. He was 52.Kersey, nicknamed “Jerome Crazy” for his reckless playing style — he was also known as “Romeo” and the Bill Schonely-coined “Mercy Kersey” — was a virtual unknown to Portland fans when he was selected out of Longwood University in the second round of the NBA draft back in 1984.

Sometimes criticized for his off-and-on jumpshot, Kersey nonetheless quickly became a fan favorite for his aggressive and fearless on-court play. He was known for his ferocious dunking, tenacious defense and unwillingness to give up on any play, earning fame for chasing down opponents on the fast break and using his prodigious leaping skills to block their shots.

Following the end of his 17-year NBA career (which included an NBA title with San Antonio in 1999), Kersey coached with several teams, worked briefly for Wells Fargo, served the Blazers as director of player programs in 2003-04, and ultimately, rejoined the Portland team as Director of Alumni Relations in the team’s Social Responsibility Department.

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