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Former Louisville All-American Cliff Rozier dies at age 45

Rest in peace, big man.

CLIFFORD ROZIER...

Former Louisville center Clifford Rozier passed away Friday after suffering a heart attack on Thursday. He was 45-years-old.

The state of Florida’s Mr. Basketball in 1990, Rozier spent his first season of college playing for Dean Smith at North Carolina. He then transferred to Louisville, where he suited up for the Cardinals from 1992-94.

Rozier was the Metro Conference Player of the Year in both of his seasons at U of L. In 1994, after averaging 18.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, he became Louisville’s first consensus First Team All-American since Darrell Griffith. He remained the most recent Cardinal to receive the honor until Russ Smith snagged First Team honors two decades later in 2014.

After leaving Louisville, Rozier was drafted 16th overall by the Golden State Warriors. His best NBA season was his first, where he appeared in 66 games and averaged 6.8 ppg for the Warriors. He played one more season for Golden State, and then had brief stints with Toronto and Minnesota before exiting the NBA for good in 1997. He played one season with the Quad City Thunder of the CBS before calling it quits on his playing career.

Rozier struggled in the years following his retirement, battling an addiction to crack as well as diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In 2010, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune caught up with Rozier, who was living in a Bradenton halfway house with nine other men.

“Ain’t nobody heard from me in almost 10 years,” Rozier said at the time. “I don’t go nowhere. I keep to myself. I want to stay here.”

The 1993-94 Louisville team was the first one that I have really vivid memories of following and falling in love with. Knowing that he was the first consensus Cardinal All-American since Darrell Griffith once earned me a prize as a 3rd grader at Wilder Elementary. I also wore my socks high during basketball because he and a couple of other guys on that team did it. Those memories are how I’m going to choose to remember Cliff.

Rest easy, big man.