Monroe C. Brown Jr. dies

Monroe Brown Jr. of Havre de Grace was a standout player at Penn State, where he also served as an assistant coach in the men's basketball program. (Penn State University, Patuxent Homestead / March 15, 2012)

Monroe C. Brown Jr., a standout basketball player at Aberdeen High School in the late 1980s and later at Penn State, died suddenly March 9 at his Havre de Grace home.

Paramedics were initially called to Mr. Brown's home in the 800 block of Conesteo Street for a cardiac arrest at 2:37 p.m. Julie Morgan, of the Havre de Grace Police Department, said Thursday that Mr. Brown's was pronounced dead at the scene and that the cause death was an apparent suicide. She declined to provide additional details, saying the death remains under investigation.

A viewing will be held Saturday, March 17, from 10 a.m. to noon at St. James A.M.E. Church at 615 Green St. in Havre de Grace. A Mass of Remembrance will follow at 1 p.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Church at 615 Congress Ave. in Havre de Grace. Burial will be private. Memory tributes may be sent to http://www.dmvobits.com/scott.

Penn State's official athletic website posted a moving tribute to Mr. Brown:


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"The Nittany Lion basketball family suffered the loss of a standout in program history on March 9 as Monroe Brown passed away in his hometown of Havre de Grace, Md.

"Born July 1, 1970, Brown, 41, was affectionately known as 'Monnie' and helped lead Penn State teams that packed Rec Hall and generated one of the most successful eras in Nittany Lion basketball history.

"A four-year starter (1989-92) and 1992 team captain for coach Bruce Parkhill, Brown helped lead Penn State to four-straight 20-win seasons and four-straight post-season appearances, a feat unmatched in program history. He teamed with fellow standout Freddie Barnes to form a potent backcourt that helped Penn State post a record of 87-40 during their careers, the most wins ever for the Nittany Lions over a four-year period. During that time, Penn State twice reached the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game and won the school's first-ever conference tournament title in 1991 with a defeat of George Washington in Rec Hall. That Penn State team went on to stun No. 16-ranked UCLA, 74-69, in the first round of the 1991 NCAA Tournament, a game regarded as one of the greatest in Penn State history.

"Penn State also made three NIT appearances (1989, 1990, 1992) with Brown in the backcourt, finishing third in 1990 after reaching the final rounds at Madison Square Garden. Brown was named team MVP in 1992 after leading the Lions averaging 14.6 points and 2.4 steals per game. He led Penn State in steals in three-straight seasons and his 82 steals in 1991 rank as the third-best mark in program history.

"Brown ranks 16th all-time on the Nittany Lion career scoring chart with 1,244 points, second on the career steals chart with 239 and sixth on the career assists chart with 450. He was one of three Nittany Lions to post at least 1,000 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists on their career.

"Brown returned to the Penn State program for the 1995-96 season as an assistant coach under Jerry Dunn. In his one season on the Penn State bench, he helped the Lions to a best-ever second-place Big Ten finish with a 12-6 conference record and earn the No. 5 seed in the 1996 NCAA Tournament where Penn State fell in the first round to No. 12 seed Arkansas."

After starring at Aberdeen High School, Mr. Brown attended Penn State on a basketball scholarship and was a four-year starter on teams that won 20 games all four seasons, a feat never attained before or since by the Penn State men's basketball program.

Mr. Brown went on to serve as an assistant coach at both Penn State and Marist College, but while working in the latter post he ran afoul of the law and served more than seven years in prison in the late 1990s and early 2000s after pleading guilty in Harford County to a charge of distributing crack cocaine.

He had been charged March 2 with drug possession and drug possession with intent to distribute following a traffic stop by Havre de Grace city police. At the time, he was awaiting trial on drug possession charges stemming from a traffic stop by state police in Harford County in October 2011.

Acquaintances said Mr. Brown had some difficult times after his arrest in 1997, when he was initially charged with being a drug kingpin before pleading guilty to the lesser distribution charge in 1999 and going to prison.

Aegis staff members Bryna Zumer and Allan Vought contributed to this story.