TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida State basketball player Ronalda Pierce died early Tuesday, apparently from an aneurysm that may have resulted from a
genetic disease that typically affects tall people.
A friend called 911 early Tuesday morning and said Pierce, 19, was breathing strangely and couldn't be awakened at her off-campus apartment. She was
taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where she died, police said.
Preliminary results from an autopsy indicated that Pierce, who was the tallest player on the Seminoles at 6-foot-5, died because of a ruptured aorta
that was caused by an aneurysm, which may have been caused by the hereditary disorder, Marfan syndrome. A final report may take months.
About 56,000 people nationwide are afflicted with Marfan syndrome, which affects connective tissue, the basic substance that holds together blood
vessels, heart valves, cartilage, tendons and other structures. Those affected are often tall, slender and loose-jointed.
Flo Hyman, the 6-foot-5 star of the U.S. volleyball team that won the silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics, died as a result of the disorder
during a game in Japan in 1986.
Pierce, a center, averaged 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in her freshman season.
It was the second time in about three years that a Florida State athlete has died.
In February 2001, Devaughn Darling, an 18-year-old linebacker on the football team, collapsed during a workout and died of an apparent cardiac