A former Manhasset High School and Duke University star basketball player was found dead Tuesday outside the New York Athletic Club building in Manhattan.
Eyewitnesses told police Thomas Emma, 49, jumped from the 12th floor in an apparent suicide. The cause of death will be determined by the New York City medical examiner.
“I am very heartbroken,” Weldon Williams, a teammate of Emma’s at Duke, told the New York Post. “He was a good man.”
Emma starred for the Blue Devils from 1979-1983. He was a three-year starter and posted the school’s fourth best free-throw percentage of .843 during the 1982-83 season.
During that season, Emma was the captain of the team that included three prominent Duke freshmen—Jay Bilas, Johnny Dawkins and Mark Alarie—who later led the Blue Devils to the 1986 NCAA Final Four.
Bilas told the Durham Herald-Sun that Emma “was like a big brother to me.” He noted that Emma had been battling unspecified health issues in recent months.
After college, Emma was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the 10th round of the 1983 NBA Draft.
Though he never reached the NBA, Emma set out to use his basketball experience to the benefit of others. He was the president of Power Performance Inc., a company founded in 1991 that specializes in the training of young athletes.
Additionally, Emma wrote books about athletic performance—most notably “101 Strength and Conditioning Exercises and Drills for Basketball” and “Basketball Player’s Comprehensive Guide to Strength Training”—according to the Associated Press.
“He was a great guy,” said Dawkins, according to the Daily News. “I have nothing but respect for him as a competitor. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”