Former Beijing Ducks captain Ji Zhe died of lung cancer on Thursday morning at the age of 33.
The Beijing Ducks released a statement on Thursday, saying “2:14 a.m. on December 5, 2019, after fighting against lung cancer for over a year, Ji Zhe left us… Ji has gone. He will love basketball as always, like he's never gone. His No. 51 jersey will stay here forever,” as cited by CGTN. The 2-meter-tall power forward was diagnosed last August, and went to the US for treatment.
After joining the Beijing Ducks in 2007, Ji developed into one of the team’s more reliable players, competing fiercely on the court and staying active on defense. Ji’s three-point shot was another key aspect of his game that flustered defenses over the years.
Image via @东莞王家卫/Weibo
Alongside former NBA all-star Stephon Marbury, Ji and the Beijing Ducks went on to win three championships in 2012, 2014 and 2015. He posted career highs in points (11.4), assists (1.8) and rebounds (6.8) during the 2012-2013 campaign.
Former teammate Stephon Marbury and former NBA and CBA player Tracy McGrady both expressed their condolences following the news. “At this moment, I am heartbroken for the family who loves you. My brother, my teammate, and my captain, I hope everything is calm now. I can only pray that your family can bear the pain of losing you, and hope that they will be fine. They will feel the energy from people who love you around the world. May you rest in peace,” Marbury, the current head coach of the Beijing Royal Fighters, posted on Weibo. In a bilingual post, McGrady also took to Weibo to write: “I send my condolences to his family. May God be with them at this time. He was a fine player to compete against.”
Image via @麦蒂Tracy_McGrady/Weibo
Fans of Ji have also flooded the internet, expressing their sorrow at the passing of the former CBA player. A Weibo user posted, “33 years old is right in the prime of one’s life, I hope that in heaven you’ll still have basketball to accompany you.”
Image via @北京首钢篮球俱乐部/Weibo
A memorial for Ji is being held at the Beijing Duck’s arena.
[Cover image via @一舟摇醉眠2012/Weibo]