Back in May, New York Times bureau chief Adam Nagourney wrote about Lewis Brown, a homeless former star for Verbum Dei and UNLV who roamed the streets of Hollywood. On Thursday, the follow-up story ran: Brown died the day before after collapsing on the sidewalk, gasping for someone to call an ambulance. He had recently amassed enough money to get an ID card that would allow him to travel to see an estranged sister. From Nagourney:
By the time help arrived, Mr. Brown — 300 pounds, 6 feet 11 inches — was lying on the ground. A half-hour of efforts by four paramedics — as his neighborhood friends shouted: “Come on, Big Lew! You can make it” — could not save him.
For Mr. Brown — a star high school center who once seemed destined for a spot in the N.B.A. — all that was left on Thursday was a Staples shopping cart carrying a few of his possessions: a pair of sneakers, a blanket, a laminated copy of a New York Times article from this year that detailed his sad story of decline, bitterness, drug arrests and missed opportunities. The remainder of his belongings — a mattress, some tattered clothes — had been put into a Dumpster.
Throughout the day, people who had known Mr. Brown, 56, from the neighborhood, where he would wash windows and talk about his lost basketball past in Compton and at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, stopped as they learned of his death. Tony Chauncey, a Time Warner Cable worker, said he had seen him last month and told him that he was going to a hospital to be checked for a reappearance of cancer.
“We hugged,” Mr. Chauncey said. “He said: ‘I’m giving you my healing prayer. You are going to be O.K.” Two weeks later, Mr. Chauncey said, he learned that he was free of cancer. “His last words to me were: ‘See. I told you I’m a spiritual man. Now give me $3!’ ”