Fab Melo, an ex-NBA player has died at the age of 26.
According to USA Today, the former Boston Celtics center passed on in his home country, Brazil. Melo who starred for Syracuse University before he emerged as the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft died from a suspected heart attack on Sunday in his sleep. The 26-year-old shared a home with his mother and two sisters. His mother, Regina Melo discovered her son’s lifeless body. According to her, Fab Melo succumbed to a heart attack just like his father who died 17 years before him.
Former Syracuse 7-footer and Celtics first-round pick Fab Melo has died in his home country of Brazil. https://t.co/BqrbUPDmnB
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 12, 2017
Fabricio Melo was on the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team. He spent two seasons at the University, averaging 4.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. He earned the title as the big East Defensive Player of the Year in his sophomore season but was suspended for the NCAA tournament over an academic-related issue. During his stint with the Boston Celtics, the 7-footer played six NBA games in the 2012-13 season.
He was later traded to the Memphis Grizzlies and subsequently the Dallas Mavericks, he did not play a game for both teams. In 2014, the Brazilian plied his trade in the NBA Development League also known as the D-League. Fab played for the Texas Legends and Maine Red Claws. In 2015, he returned to Brazil and signed with Liga Sorocabana.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim on Fab Melo's death: 'It's a heart-breaker' (video) | https://t.co/V0ZVGNN7ZM
— Syracuse Basketball (@syrbasketball) February 14, 2017
Melo was a late bloomer in the game of basketball. The youngest of four kids, the gangly teen arrived in the United States with little money and did not speak a word of English. Melo was prodded by his mother to come to the United States to play basketball because of his height. She felt that her son stood no chance of learning the game in Brazil, where the game of soccer is a national obsession.
Fabricio started playing basketball at age 15 and could not dunk despite being six-foot-five. In an interview with Syracuse, he recounted the difficulties that he experienced learning the game.
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) February 13, 2017
“In soccer, you kick balls. In basketball, you catch them. At first it was very hard to grab the ball when somebody threw it to me. And when I would get the ball, I would always travel. And when I shot, it looked like I was throwing a pass. It was all very strange.”
Fabricio was noticed at The Sagemont School of Weston and meandered his way into Syracuse University after he was offered an athletic scholarship. Melo believed that he was lucky considering he had only been playing basketball for five years.
Unfortunately, his promising career never got off the ground. He also struggled with his academics and blemished his college days with a domestic violence record. However, many people remember him as the happy and approachable guy. Syracuse coach, Jim Boeheim described him as a nice kid who worked hard to improve his game; he added that he was shocked that Melo was no more.
I'm very sorry to hear about the passing of Fab Melo. He was a kind, genuine person who was committed to doing his best while he was at …
— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) February 12, 2017
Sad day for Cuse. My brother Fab Melo passed away. I still can't believe the news. My condolences goes out to his family. Such a great guy
— CJ Fair (@cjfair) February 12, 2017
I worked out Fab Melo a lot when he went pro. An extremely genuine person with lots of positive energy. Sad day.
— Rob McClanaghan (@RMcClanaghanNBA) February 12, 2017
A source revealed that the big center athlete’s scandal with the NCAA was having someone else do all his academic work. However, many students sympathized with the big Brazilian and blamed the University for handling things inappropriately and never giving him a soft landing.
They wondered how a student that only recently started learning English was expected to compete in the classroom and listen to professors. The observers also argued that Fabricio was only a scapegoat, adding that many students were guilty of the same thing, but were never caught.
An emergency call on Saturday night brought paramedics and military police to the Melo residence where the former NBA player was certified dead with no signs of violence. Tributes have been pouring in for the player. One of the teams he represented; the Maine Red Claws lauded him for still holding the record for 14 blocks in a single game even after he has passed on.
[Featured Image by Mel Evans/AP Images]