Former FSU center Michael Ojo dies at 27 after reported heart attack

Michael Ojo laughs with an FSU teammate.
Former FSU center Michael Ojo died on Friday at 27. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi, File)

Former Florida State center and 7-foot-1 fan favorite Michael Ojo has died at age 27. Ojo, who was in Belgrade playing for the Serbian basketball team Partizan, reportedly collapsed while running during practice on Friday. reports that he had a heart attack and doctors were unable to resuscitate him.

Ojo, who was originally from Nigeria, played for FSU from 2012-2017, making incredible improvements from his freshman year to his senior year. Following his graduation from FSU, he went overseas to Serbia to pursue a professional basketball career and found success. He spent two years with Crvena Zvezda, winning the ABA League Super Cup in 2018 and the overall ABA League and Serbian League in 2019.

Discovered as a soccer player

Ojo didn’t discover basketball until his late teens. He told Ira Schoffel of that he was discovered when he was 16 or 17 while playing soccer in his native Nigeria. While he didn’t love the game at first, he took to it easily. He moved to the U.S. and enrolled at Tennessee Temple Academy in Chattanooga, where FSU coach Leonard Hamilton discovered him and all of his raw talent.

Ojo’s talent was definitely raw. In his true freshman year, he was a 36.4 percent free throw shooter who averaged 0.7 points and 1.0 rebound per game. He put in hours and hours of work to improve, and it was obvious by his senior year. In 2017 he had turned into an 80.6 percent free throw shooter who averaged 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. That year, he made his first trip to the NCAA tournament with FSU.

Friends, classmates, reporters mourn Ojo

Ojo was a beloved friend and teammate, described as friendly, funny, and gentle. After news of his death spread on Friday, Twitter was full of tributes.

More from Yahoo Sports: