Death of former basketball star Mitty shocks the community

Drew Gordon was remembered by his highschool classmates because the primary player, a highly touted basketball talent who paved the best way for his younger brother to play Archbishop Mitty after which into the NBA.

Gordon, who was a star at Mitty himself before moving to UCLA after which New Mexico before starting a greater than decade-long skilled profession, died Thursday in a automotive crash near Portland, Oregon.

He was 33.

According to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department, Gordon was driving a three-wheeled autocycle that crossed the middle line and collided with a pickup truck in an unincorporated a part of the county.

He died on the scene; the motive force of the pickup truck and a passenger were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The report also found that impairment didn’t appear to have played a job.

Gordon's sudden death left everyone who knew him at his old highschool and elsewhere in shock – a tragedy that also seemed unreal a day later.

Gordon, the older brother of Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets, had settled right into a house in Oregon together with his wife Angela and their three children after retiring from skilled basketball last yr.

He ran an AAU program and had began a sports management company together with his sister Elise, said Brian Eagleson, his basketball coach at Mitty and now the varsity's athletic director.

“He had an incredible career for 12 or 13 years, but to me, he – the man he is today – is one of my closest friends, from the time he was 13 until he died at 33,” Eagleson said. “My own children call him Uncle Drew.

“My daughter will probably be playing soccer at Pacific University in Oregon. She selected that faculty since it's only 35 minutes from Drew's house. She could have seen Uncle Drew the entire time. It was a rough night.”

Gordon's era at Mitty was special, a team loaded with talent that went deep in the postseason. As a junior, he was the Mercury News Player of the Year in 2007. Only a foot injury slowed him down a year later. He still earned McDonald's All-American honors before playing for Ben Howland's UCLA program.

Portrait of Archbishop Mitty High School's Drew Gordon, the All Mercury News basketball player of the year, at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose on March 22, 2007. Josie Lepe/Mercury News.
Archbishop Mitty's Drew Gordon, the 2007 Mercury News Basketball Player of the Year. (Josie Lepe/Staff Archives)

JT Hanley was in his first year as sports information director at Mitty when Gordon was in his final year. Hanley, who is currently on a language study trip in South Africa, said he was stunned when he heard the news of Gordon's death.

“Honestly, I just can’t understand it,” Hanley said.

By the time Hanley arrived at Mitty, Gordon was already a fixture on Robert Braunstein's weekly Bay Area high school television show.

But seeing Gordon – and his teammates – live was a different experience.

“That team was probably the most talented basketball team as a gaggle that I've ever seen,” Hanley said. “The five starting players and the sixth man on that team all got DI scholarships and went on to school careers. They were just good at it. But Drew was form of the primary amongst equals.”

“In terms of physical ability, Drew at all times gave the impression of a man twiddling with guys – even within the postseason, the sectionals, the NorCals, the state playoffs. He was so dynamic, explosive and powerful.”

Gordon was also respectful, said Steve Filios, then-basketball coach of rival St. Francis.

“Some people say that's the rationale I retired. When he graduated, that was the yr I moved on,” Filios said. “Great athlete. He and Collin (Chiverton) were the double act. Always a cultured kid. He at all times shook my hand after games and spoke to me very respectfully.”

“Of course it was a little bit of a show because he could do things that other kids couldn't, especially play over the basket and stuff like that. But I never had the sensation that he didn't respect the sport or his opponents.”

Tim Kennedy was hired as Mitty's basketball coach in the spring of Gordon's senior year. He had never coached Gordon in high school, but formed a close bond with the family during his time coaching Aaron Gordon.

Kennedy said Gordon played a significant role in his younger brother's rise to stardom. Aaron was twice named California Mr. Basketball by Cal-Hi Sports and a McDonald's All-American. He played one season in Arizona before being drafted No. 4 by the Orlando Magic in 2014. Last season, Aaron won an NBA title with the Nuggets.

“Aaron wouldn't be the person he’s without him,” Kennedy said. “He form of paved the best way for himself by graduating from highschool, becoming a high-ranking recruit and learning methods to handle all of the situations. Aaron was lucky to have that, to sit down back and watch all of it unfold and create his own roadmap just by watching his brother undergo all of the things he needed to undergo.”

Gordon was not drafted into the NBA in 2012 and spent most of his career in Europe and the G-League. He played nine games for the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2014-15 season, his only time in the NBA, but his career also included seasons in Italy, Russia, France, Serbia and Japan.

In 2022, Gordon was playing in the Ukrainian Basketball Super League when Russian troops attacked the country.
After the invasion, he posted on X/Twitter: “All the perfect guys!!! My family and I are back home protected and sound!! Thanks for the great wishes and concern! I hope and pray that Ukraine is doing well. I enjoyed playing there and I hope things calm down.”

Gordon retired in 2023 and returned to the West Coast.

“He's form of turned the page on being a father and a businessman,” Eagleson said. “They're a close-knit family, especially the siblings. All three of them are very close.”

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