Former Cardozo All-Met Ed Epps Dead

Big man also starred for Dale Brown at Utah State:

It’s not too late to thank Ed Epps

By Craig Hislop
Published:

Friday, September 11, 2009 2:37 AM CDT
It’s one of his cherished memories.

The moment Ed Epps put Aggie basketball “on the brink” with a wonderfully timed 22-foot jump shot. Tonight as a Washington, D.C. television station airs a live, call-in program about his life, he hopes to last long enough to watch it.

In a slow, hideous spiral, stomach cancer is sucking the life out of Ed. He was supposed to be gone months ago. The disease was discovered in June of 2008.

In his native D.C., he’s coached kids his entire professional life — Adrian Dantley among them — and was still going to work in November when the lousy disease took over.


“He had gastric bypass surgery to cut out the cancer,” his sister Rita said Wednesday, “and that’s when the trouble began. He bled on the table; a two-hour surgery went six hours. He went into intensive care, he contracted a virus which left a whole in his stomach, so they treated him for that.”

The last week of August in 2008, he was transferred to a nursing home for rehab, got back to work in November, starting his first round of chemo and radiation at the same time.

“But by then the cancer metastasized to his liver, which is what he is battling now,” Rita said.

Recently Ed had been running a basketball program on Sundays after mass for kids who didn’t necessarily have fathers in their lives. His two sons, Shawn and Denny, helped him.

Severe abdominal pains started in March of this year, and he’s gone progressively downhill since. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds playing alongside Aggie stars Marv Roberts and Nate Williams in the day, Ed rests now in a nursing home in Annendale, Va., at barely 135 pounds.

“Doctors have told us there is nothing they can do,” Rita said, “they’re all amazed he’s still alive.”

Glenn Harris, who once officiated playground games in DC’s Urban Coalition leagues where Epps became a legend, will host tonight’s show on News Channel 8. When Harris and Dantley visited the Leewood Nursing Home in Annendale recently, they realized there was little time left.

Ed had been in Hospice care, but was forced to leave that facility and the family had no money to place him elsewhere.

As an Aggie assistant coach Dale Brown recruited Ed to Utah State. He has since retired in Baton Rouge after a very successful quarter century as LSU’s head coach. When told of Epps’ needs, he promised to pay all expenses for Ed’s care, several thousand dollars a month.

All of this unfolds 39 years after the drama of March 1970, when Ed’s jumper with 13 seconds left beat Santa Clara, 69-68, and put Utah State into the West Regional Championships against UCLA. One game from the Final Four.

Two days later Ed helped get the Aggies out of the gate against the Bruins, scoring 10 points in the first half, but an injury slowed Williams and the Aggies weren’t able to stay with UCLA.

I guess the point of all this is to let you know, if you remember Ed’s Aggie playing days and that quirky little left foot hitch kick on his jump shot, call tonight’s TV show at 6 o’clock mountain time (703-387-1020) and tell Ed he’s your hero.

Everybody likes a thank you note.

I promise you, he’ll be watching.

———

Craig Hislop is a longtime Cache Valley broadcaster, who can now be heard weekday mornings on KVNU. He is among a number of Cache Valley freelance writers whose columns appear in The Herald Journal as a part of an effort to expose readers to a variety of community voices. He is not an employee of the newspaper. He can be reached at craig@cvradio.com.
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26 responses to “Former Cardozo All-Met Ed Epps Dead

  1. Ed had the ability to turn an average basketball team into a competitive aggressive team. He would always get his point across with his run and jump defense that turned into easy layups. That was his offense! ……That Cardozo team in the 60’s was fun to watch…Epps, Gaskins,Ring….Ed gave most of his life to the kids of D.C.

  2. He truly LOVED the game. Most of all he Loved working with the kids. My love, you gave yourself and time…the best gift anyone can receive. I love you & miss you sooo much. I know your not sitting on the sidelines up in heaven!

    • Thank you ma’am. I can tell you by the record number of searches done using his name to find this blog, he was truly loved and will be dearly missed.
      BCB

  3. Ed was one in a million. He not only loved the game, he loved his family and friends. He was a surrogate father to my son and my love and friend. I miss him and love him deeply. He was an asset to the game and his community.

  4. Sharon O'Meally-Miller

    I had the wonderful privilege to meet Epps when I was the girlfriend of Billy Gaskins. I said what’s his first name, G said, Just Epps – we play basketball together. At the time, I did not know what a powerhouse of basketball players I was sitting with: Lyn Ring, Ed Epps and Vaughn Kimbrough – with Billy. That was in the mid-70’s and I know that those three powerhouses are assisting and doing slam dunks in the stadium of heaven. Love to Rita and Family. Sharon

  5. Sharon O'Meally-Miller

    I confirm.

  6. Toni Champ Gorham

    Ed was class mate of mine from Cardozo High School. He was a star then and he will always be a star. Our class of 1967 had the wining stars Kimbrough, Shoulders, Lynn Ring and Billy Gaskin who came out in 1966 . Now Billy Gaskins Lynn Ring and Ed Epps are now playing for the greatest coach on the greatest team. To Rita and the family you are so love. Ed Epps will be missed but his spirit lives on in his children .

    • Those guys were city heroes. Coach Harold Deane was getting it done over there on the hill. Thanks Ms. Gorham, and all who have shared heartfelt sentiments regarding Mr. Epps.

      BCB

  7. Helen (Walker) Tate

    From The Captain of the Cheerleader Team c/o 66

    Epps Epps he’s our man, if he can’t do it NO one can!!!
    Love c/o 66

  8. Toni Champ Gorham

    We had a birthday party this weekend for our class of ’67 from Cardozo and we remember Ed by telling stories about him. Then a moment of silent for all the classmates that has transition to a better life. You are will always be apart of our history and legacy.

  9. I had the opportunity to play for Mr. Epps while at Wilson and wasn’t aware of his history until talking with my father. We later crossed paths as an adult when I coached at Garfield Elementary and found that he was coaching down the street at a neighboring Elementary school. Mr. Epps was an inspiration to me and was ALWAYS helpful to anyone wanting to be successful (on the court or off the court) …Coaching from a different sideline now, much love to Mr. Epps

  10. James C. Brunson

    I also played for Coach Epps at Wilson and I will never forget how he put you at ease with his personality. He coached a game that made you want to play and he got the most out of everyone, especially a moderately talented kid like me. He will be missed and I wish I was able to keep in contact with him as I grew older…

  11. I want to send my prayers to his family specifically his sons, who mentored me and alot of other area hoopers at Maret on Sundays for open gym. Good memories of Coach Epps was him telling me to lift my shot and looks he gave you when he was not satisfied with your play. He made me a better player and appreciate making me a better person and player. He will truly be missed by D.C. Sports and those that played for him.

  12. I played along side Brunson at Wilson for Coach Epps. During the semifinals one year, I made a terrible decision on the court and turned the ball over with less than a minute to play. Epps called time out and pulled me from the game. After the huddle though, he threw me back out there and gave me the opportunity to make up for it. I did, and we won by a single point. He gave me a second chance – a lesson I’ll never forget. Thank you, Coach Epps. Best basketball coach I ever had.

  13. My condolences to all who knew him, especially his family. He was a special guy, very knowledgable and very caring. I played with Brunson, Jordan, and Alphonso too, and the way helped us on and off the court was special. The one time I saw him after our playing days, he stopped to talk to me for almost half an hour, just to impress upon me that he believed in me. Ed Epps = good guy and he will be missed.

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