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Sunday, October 14, 2007
Ex-Georgia standout Kessler collapses, dies during pickup basketball game

Associated Press

ATHENS, Ga. -- Alec Kessler, a Georgia basketball star who played four seasons for the Miami Heat before becoming an orthopedic surgeon, died after collapsing during a pickup game. He was 40.

The captain on Georgia's 1990 Southeastern Conference championship team suffered an apparent heart attack in Pensacola, Fla, the school said Sunday. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Gulf Breeze Hospital, the school said.

When Kessler enrolled at Georgia in 1985, he was a little-known recruit with few other offers from Division I programs. After a redshirt season, he spent one year as a backup before blossoming into a star for the Bulldogs.

His senior season, the Bulldogs won the first and only SEC basketball title in school history. In his last college game, Kessler became the school's career scoring leader with 1,788 points, a mark surpassed the following year by Litterial Green.

After graduation, Kessler was picked No. 12 overall by the Houston Rockets, who promptly traded him to the Heat. During his time with Miami, 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 graduated from Georgia with a degree in microbiology. He graduated from the Emory School of Medicine in 1999 and was an orthopedic surgeon in Pensacola.

Kessler, whose brother Chad played at Georgia from 1984-87, was survived by his wife, Rhea, and their two sons, Nicholas and Christopher.