Maurice Stokes, born June 17, 1933, is known as one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived. He won back-to-back City League championships at Westinghouse High School and led St. Francis University to the Final Four. He is the only player on a fourth place team to win Tournament Most Valuable Player.
In the 1955 NBA draft, Stokes was picked number two overall by the Rochester Royals (later becoming the Cincinnati Royals). In his first NBA game he accounted for 32 points, 20 rebounds and 8 assists. He was voted the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.
Toward the end of Stokes’ third season as a Cincinnati Royal he fell and hit his head on the hardwood court and slipped into a coma and spent the rest of his life as a Paraplegic.
The brain injury had robbed Stokes of his speech, mobility and independence.
Caucasian teammate Jack Twyman became his legal guardian and Twyman and his family took care of Stokes for 12 years until he died of a heart attack at the age of 36 in 1970.