Neil Reed, the Indiana University basketball player who was choked by coach Bob Knight in a practice in 1997, died Thursday at the age of 36.
Reed, who died in Nipomo, Calif., had suffered a massive heart attack Wednesday, according to Nola.com.
Reed, who played high school basketball in Metairie, La., played three seasons for Knight, infamous for his temper during his years at Indiana. It was during a practice in 1997 that Knight choked him, a move that was videotaped and later became public as Knight’s tumultous career in Indiana was coming to an end.
“He idolized Coach Knight,’’ his former high school coach, Jim Robarts, told Nola, “so I never understood how he came to have such a situation with [Knight].’’
In March 2000, Reed, who had transferred to Southern Mississippi, went public with his accusation that Knight choked him and video backed him up. At that point, Knight was placed on a zero-tolerance policy by Myles Brand, who was the Indiana president at the time. In September, Knight was fired after a student said he grabbed his arm.
“Believe it or not, I'm not happy that Indiana fired Coach Knight,” Reed said in an ESPN the Magazine interview. “I don't have any feelings about it, mostly because I've had to stand alone for so long. In a way, I've been proven right, but that doesn't make my life any easier.”
After transferring, Reed said he “fell out of love” with the sport. “Maybe that was Coach Knight’s fault and maybe it was partly my fault,” he said. “But if I can handle what I’ve been through, then I know I can handle what lies ahead.”
Reed, who is survived by his wife and two daughters, had been freshman basketball coach at Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria for the last three seasons.