Former UNLV basketball player Chris Richardson died in his sleep this morning in Sasebo, Japan, where he was touring with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Richardson, 28, played for the Rebels from 1998 to 2002. The cause of his death was not determined, but it was believed to be of natural causes, according to a Globetrotters spokesman.
“That’s just really unbelievable,” said Charlie Spoonhour, who coached Richardson during his senior season at UNLV in 2001-02. “It just shocks me. It makes me sad.
“I can never think of Chris of having any health problems. That’s one of those things you don’t expect. It should make us all appreciate every day and not take anything for granted.”
Richardson played in the UNLV Alumni/Legends Game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Nov. 11. He scored 15 points and showed off the dunking ability that he was known for in college.
He was associated with the Globetrotters for several years, and was on the team’s annual holiday tour of American military bases throughout Asia.
“Chris was a wonderful young man who loved life and loved being a Globetrotter,” Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said. “The entire Globetrotter family is heartbroken by his passing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his mother, Brenda, and his children.”
A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, the 6-foot-7-inch Richardson was recruited to UNLV by former coach Bill Bayno and he played his final year for Spoonhour.
Richardson was part of the Rebels team in 1999-2000 that won the Mountain West Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament.
He played in 103 games and started 34 in his UNLV career, averaging 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds.
As a senior, Richardson started 31 of 32 games and averaged 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds as the Rebels finished 21-11.
“He was one of our captains, and he was a good guy,” Spoonhour said. “He was a really good guy to coach.”
Richardson, nicknamed “Flash,” made his home in Las Vegas.
“Still playing basketball and getting paid to travel the world,” he told the Review-Journal after the Alumni/Legends Game. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
According to the Globetrotters, Richardson took part in community activities and was active with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs and adoption agencies.
More details, including memorial service information, will be announced when available.