Former Net Orlando Woolridge passes away
According to the Shreveport Times, Desoto Parish Chief Deputy Coroner Billy Locke said that Woolridge had been under hospice care for a chronic heart condition, and was pronounced dead on Thursday night at his family’s home.
The 6-foot-9 Woolridge was a star at Mansfield High before going on to Notre Dame, where he was part of a Fighting Irish team that reached the Final Four in his freshman year of 1978. As a senior, he also hit a last-second jumper that helped Notre Dame beat Ralph Sampson and No. 1 Virginia, ending the Cavaliers’ 28-game winning streak.
Woolridge was drafted sixth overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1981, and enjoyed a 13-year NBA career that saw him average 16.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Bulls, Nets, Lakers, Nuggets, Pistons, Bucks, and Sixers.
He also spent two years in Italy (where he played for former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni in 1994-95) after ending his NBA career, and worked as a coach for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and both the Houston Takers and Arizona Rhinos of the fledgling ABA.
According to the Times, however, Woolridge had fallen on hard times of late, and had been arrested in Desoto Parish in February for stealing more than $1,500 worth of aluminum water lines used to transfer water to natural gas drilling sites and selling the material for scrap.
Woolridge is survived by a family that three sons who played NCAA hoops; Zach Woolridge played at Princeton from 2004-08, Renaldo Woolridge played at Tennessee from 2008-12, and Royce Woolridge has three years of eligibility remaining at Washington State after transferring from Kansas last season. Orlando’s daughter, Tiana, also played volleyball at Princeton.