Ex-Hawkeye basketball player Speed dies

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Former Iowa basketball recruit James Speed passed away in Las Vegas on Wednesday of complications from liver cancer, according to a release.

Speed, 61, is survived by his wife of 36 years, Sylvia, and a son, daughter, and three stepchildren.

The Louisiana native played junior college basketball at Imperial Valley Junior College in El Centro, Calif., and received scholarship offers from more than 85 schools once his JuCo career was complete.

The 6-7 forward signed with Iowa and then-coach Dick Schultz in 1970.

Before he could play a game with the Hawkeyes, though, a sinus infection caused by meningitis led to loss of sight in both of Speed's eyes.

A medical malpractice lawsuit following the incident has been credited with changing Iowa malpractice law to allow experts from outside the state to testify in cases in the state.

Speed would overcome his blindness to work as a basketball coach, radio basketball announcer, and in real estate. He spent the last 36 years in Las Vegas with his wife.

Plans for a service have not been announced.

— by Seth Roberts

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