Justin Love, a star basketball player at Sacred Heart Cathedral in the mid-1990s who went on to help lead St. Louis University to an NCAA tournament appearance in 2000, has died. He was 41.
“Our hearts are hurting today as we learn of the passing of a great Billiken, Justin Love,” St. Louis University men’s basketball tweeted Tuesday. “We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends, students and teammates.”
Love was found unresponsive on Tuesday morning at Mascoutah (Illinois) High, where he was the St. Louis suburb school’s basketball coach. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead, according to reports.
In 1996, Love was named the West Catholic Athletic League’s co-player of the year after averaging 16.5 points, six rebounds and three steals per game. He received first-team honors by this news organization.
“Tremendous player,” said former St. Francis coach Steve Filios, now assistant commissioner of the Central Coast Section. “Our players had tremendous respect for him.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to know him at all. But after reading about all the great work that he’s done, I am sorry that I didn’t get a chance to have more of a professional relationship with him because it sounded like he was just an outstanding young man and the type of person that we want our kids to be.”
Love was a first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2000, the year St. Louis won four games in four days to win the conference tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament. He was inducted into the university’s hall of fame in 2009.
After college, Love spent a dozen years playing basketball overseas before moving on to coaching.
“Rest in Peace, Justin Love ’96,” Sacred Heart Cathedral athletics tweeted Wednesday. “SHC is holding the Mascoutah High School community close to our hearts during this difficult time. Justin was beloved by so many, his impact will live on forever in both of our schools.”