REST IN PEACE: Today is the burial day for the Boston Celtics key player who died in an automobile accident…

Boston Celtics star Reggie Lewis died Tuesday night after collapsing for the second time in three months while playing basketball. He was 27.

Lewis collapsed late Tuesday afternoon while shooting baskets at Brandeis University, the Celtics’ practice facility. There was no organized team practice.

Local paramedics found him in “complete cardiac arrest” and he was pronounced dead at 7:30 p.m. EDT at Waltham-Weston Hospital, Dr. Mary Anne McGinn said at a news conference.

Lewis, Boston’s top scorer the past two seasons, originally was diagnosed with a career-threatening heart disorder after he collapsed April 29 during a playoff game against Charlotte.

The 6-foot-7 Celtics captain got a second opinion that he was suffering from a nerve ailment and might be able to resume his career.

Amir Weiss, a witness to Tuesday’s collapse, said Lewis “seemed real happy. He wasn’t doing anything too strenuous.

“When I looked over, Reggie was on the floor. We went over to look at him and he was gasping for air.”

He said Lewis was limp and shaking and, after a few minutes, “he stopped breathing.”

Lewis, the Celtics’ first-round draft pick in 1987 out of Northeastern, had not participated in any team practices since his collapse April 29 and was preparing for a pickup game Tuesday.

Deo Djossou, a senior on Northeastern’s basketball team, said he spoke with Lewis on Sunday about their plans to start working out with about 12 local college players.

Djossou said they were to begin practicing Monday, but the session was pushed back until 6 p.m. Tuesday because a lot of the players didn’t have transportation. He said Lewis already had been taken from Brandeis when

the players arrived. After he collapsed April 29, Lewis said while

leaving Boston Garden he was scared and “started having flashbacks to that Hank Gathers thing.” Gathers, a star at Loyola Marymount, died of a

heart problem after collapsing during a game March 4, 1990.

Len Bias, the Celtics’ top draft choice in 1986, died two days after being selected. His death was attributed to cocaine use.

Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss declined comment on Lewis’ death other than to announce a news conference at the team headquarters in Boston. Dr. McGinn took no questions at the family’s request.

Lewis went to Brandeis at about 4 p.m., said Jack Molloy, the school’s sports information director. He was admitted in critical condition at Waltham-Weston Hospital at 5:41 p.m., said Nick DiIeso, the hospital’s vice president of patient care services. Lewis did not participate in the

Celtics rookie-free agent camp from July 11-14, although he attended some of the sessions. He wasn’t part of the Celtics group that played in a summer league that ended Sunday in New York. Lewis averaged 20.8 points a game

in each of the past two seasons. He had 17 points in the opening playoff game against Charlotte in which he collapsed in the first quarter.

Lewis was taken to New England Baptist Hospital after the game but left after three days and entered Brigham and Women’s Hospital, both in Boston.

Tests at New England Baptist were analyzed by 11 cardiologists, none having examined Lewis or met with him. Lewis was told he had a serious heart ailment.

New England Baptist and the Celtics released a statement saying Lewis had “cardiac abnormalities.” Team physician Arnold Scheller said Lewis had a life- threatening condition and probably would not play again. Scheller was not immediately available for comment Tuesday. Lewis underwent additional

tests at Brigham and Women’s under supervision of Dr. Gilbert Mudge.

On May 10, Mudge announced the findings, saying Lewis has a “normal athlete’s heart” and he was optimistic Lewis could play again although he had not been given clearance. He said doctors concluded Lewis had a nerve condition that confuses the signals telling the heart whether to speed up or slow down. Mudge was not available for comment.

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