Larry Gibson, a former Dunbar High School and University of Maryland basketball star whose college coach, Lefty Driesell, and teammates helped him rebuild his life after a 2004 auto accident, died following a skin infection and liver cancer recurrence, according to his wife. He was 66.
Mr. Gibson died March 4 while in a home hospice program in Frederick, Delores Hicks-Gibson said.
Mr. Gibson, a 6-foot-9 star at Dunbar and the seventh-leading rebounder in University of Maryland history, was a key player on some of the Terps’ best teams, including one with future NBA players Buck Williams, Albert King and Lawrence Boston.
On Super Bowl Sunday of 1979, Mr. Gibson hit the winning basket and a foul shot to beat No. 1 Notre Dame and send Maryland fans streaming onto the court.
He earlier starred at Dunbar, helping the Baltimore school to one of its greatest victories, a 1973 triumph over a DeMatha team led by Adrian Dantley.
Former Dunbar and University of Maryland coach Bob Wade did not coach Gibson in high school, but Wade said he followed Gibson’s career and was impressed by his character.
“He was very mild mannered and just did a great job when he was at Dunbar and, of course, when he went to Maryland he had a tremendous career,” Wade said. “He’s very well loved and respected in the community.”
In 2004, Mr. Gibson’s Isuzu Trooper rolled and struck a tree on Virginia’s Interstate 66, leaving him unconscious and pinned inside the vehicle, according to medical records.
Mr. Gibson was hospitalized for weeks and his brain injury left him with memory lapses and unable to live independently. His speech, gait and gestures were chronically slow. He had liver cancer and diabetes, Delores Hicks-Gibson said.
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Mr. Gibson was aided after his accident by his wife, his former teammates and Mr. Driesell. One teammate, Ernie Graham, would visit Mr. Gibson and show him videos of their old games.
At the time, Mr. Gibson was having trouble — because of his size and condition — navigating his small apartment. Mr. Driesell circulated word among former Maryland players — including David Henderson, Williams, Rich Porac and others — and about $10,000 was quickly raised to help pay for Mr. Gibson to move to a larger place.
Mr. Driesell, now 90, “showed up for everything Larry needed,” Delores Hicks-Gibson said. “Lefty made sure Larry had clothes that fit, or shoes. Lefty raised money and he made sure that our rent was paid and we were able to sustain ourselves.”
In 2006, Mr. Gibson wrote Mr. Driesell a letter in pencil thanking him for his help and closing with “Please call. Thanks.”
Mr. Gibson is survived by his wife; a sister, Francis Bean of Baltimore; and three children from a previous marriage.
A viewing and service was scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. at March Funeral Homes-East in Baltimore.
Baltimore Sun reporter Glenn Graham contributed to this article.