Maurice Stokes

In 1958, Maurice Stokes was an up-and-coming basketball superstar and one of the first players in history to combine great speed with exceptional size and strength. Following a brilliant career at St. Francis (PA) College where he averaged 22 points and 24 rebounds per game, Stokes was the second overall pick of the Rochester Royals in the 1955 NBA Draft. Stokes’ impact on the league was immediate as he took home NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1956. In only his second season of pro ball, the 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward broke the NBA’s single-season record for rebounds with 1,256. In the final regular season game of his third year, Stokes’ promising career was cut short when he fell to the floor, hit his head, and was knocked unconscious. Stokes fell into a coma and was left permanently paralyzed, but continued to touch players with his courage and sense of humor the rest of his life.