Former MHP Riesen Player Justin Love Passes Away At Age 41

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Justin Love in Frankfurt during the 2005-2006 season

He may have only dazzled opponents and impressed fans in German arena´s for one season, but former BBL player of Ludwigsburg Justin Love had a long and stellar 14 year professional career and after his playing days ended gave back by teaching young kids play basketball. Unfortunately his life ended way to early as former BBL player Justin Love has passed away at only the age of 41. Love had been Head Basketball Coach of the Mascoutah High School Boys Basketball program since 2017. He was found unresponsive on campus.  He was rushed to the hospital and later pronounced dead. Early in his career he moved around very much playing in the minor leagues in the States, Italy, France and China, but in the second half of his professional career he had found  a second home in the Ukraine where he would play the last 7 years of his career and retire in 2015.

Love was born on November 6, 1978 in San Francisco, California. He began to play at Sacred Heart HS and then played at Canada JC averaging 22ppg, 6rpg, 5apg. Like so many professional players, he had to start at the bottom, but was rewarded for his hard work and was able to play 2 seasons of NCAA ball at St Louis University where he had a good junior season averaging 13,7ppg and 4,4rpg and a great senior year averaging 18,2ppg, 5,0rpg and 2,5apg.He began his professional career in 2000 with the Phoenix Suns, but got cut and was with the with Kansas City Knights (ABA), in Jan.’01 was tested by Kinder Bologna (Italy-A1) and then finished the season with the Dan Shanks at Gravelines (France-ProA) playing 4 games. He then got to know a new culture in China and played two seasons there tearing up the league with the Beijing Aoshen (China-CBA) averaging 26,4ppg and 6,3rpg and returned back the next season playing with the Beijing Olympians (China-CBA) averaging 19.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 53.8 2-PT FG, 35.9 3-PT FG, 88.0 FT. During these years, he couldn´t get enough of basketball and also played with the : Saint Louis Sky Hawks (USBL) when his contract had ended in China. In the 2004-2005 season he had his first tour of duty with BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL) playing 14 ULEB Cup games averaging  13.5ppg 3.2rpg 1.4apg 1.5spg FGP: 46.5% 3Pts: 43.9%; and 19 Baltic league games  averaging 15.1ppg 3.4rpg 2.0apg 1.5spg FGP: 54% 3Pts: 42%; and in the LBL playing 23games averaging 15,3ppg, 3,7rpg, 3,0apg and 1,5spg.

In the 2005-2006 season he came to Germany and played with EnBW Ludwigsburg (Germany-1.Bundesliga) playing 30 games averaging  14.4ppg, 4.1rpg, 2.7apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 55.7%. He then returned back to Latvia and played 2 seasons in an old stomping ground with BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL) playing 10 ULEB Cup games averaging 10.2ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.9apg, 1.7spg, 2FGP: 44.7%, 3FGP: 45.2%, FT: 81.8%; played 20 Baltic League games averaging 11.9ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.1apg, 2FGP: 55.9%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 87.0%; and played 16 LBL games averaging 9.1ppg 2.6rpg 1.8apg 1.2spg. In the 2007-2008 season he played 12 ULEB Cup  games averaging 12.0ppg, 3.9rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 52.7%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 83.3%; played 13 Baltic League games averaging  11.5ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.2apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 41.9%, FT: 83.1%; and played 17 Latvian League games averaging  13.1ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.9apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 49.0%, 3PT-2(53.0%), FT: 74.0%. He then played his last 7 years in the Ukraine. He played 2 seasons with MBC Mykolaiv (Ukraine-Superleague) from 2009-2011 and in his first season shot an amazing 52% from outside. He played parts of 5 seasons with BS Odessa (Ukraine-Superleague) putting up strong consistent stats in 4 of his 5 seasons. He showed that he was an unbelievable consistent player in his career. From 2002 when he played his first season in China to 2015 when he retired, he averaged double figure in scoring in 17 of the 19 leagues he played in.

The American also picked up many awards and achievements in his stellar career like 1998 Co-Juco Player of the Year in California -98, ConfUSA Tournament Winner -00 (MVP), ConfUSA 1st Team -00, Deset Classic All-Tournament Team -00, All-Chinese CBA 2nd Team -03, Chinese CBA All-Imports 1st Team -03, All-CBA Imports 2nd Team -04, Latvian League All-Star Game -05, 08, Baltic League Semifinals -05, 07, ULEB Cup Quarterfinals -05, All-Baltic League 2nd Team -05, Baltic League All-Imports Team -05, All-Latvian League Forward of the Year -05, All-Latvian League Import Player of the Year -05, All-Latvian League 1st Team -05, Latvian League All-Imports Team -05, 07, 08, Latvian League Regular Season Champion -05, 07, Latvian League Champion -05, German Bundesliga All-Star Game -06, Baltic League All-Star Game -07, Latvian League Finalist – 07, Latvian League Regular Season Runner-Up -08, Latvian League Semifinals -08, All-Latvian League 2nd Team -08, Ukrainian UBL Cup Finalist -09, Ukrainian UBL Semifinals -09, All-Ukrainian Superleague Guard of the Year -11, All-Ukrainian Superleague 1st Team -11, Ukrainian Superleague All-Imports Team -11, Ukrainian Cup Semifinals -12, and All-Ukrainian Superleague Honorable Mention -12. The San Francisco native was a young coach at age 41, but was making a mark at the high school level. In his three seasons coaching the Indians, his record was 55-42, including the IHSA Class 3A regional championship in 2019, and went to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to eventual state champion East St. Louis in the sectional final.For those accomplishments, Love was named the Illinois Basketball Association’s boys Coach of the Year. His coaching philosophy was very simple: “Play tough, play smart and be unselfish. Everybody who had dealings with Justin Love in Germany will never forget his versatile play on the court and vicious scoring qualities.I did meet Justin Love after  a game in Frankfurt in the 2005-2006 season probably getting a post game quote, but didn´t have more than a few minutes with him. I did not know Justin Love personally, but his teammate Nils Mittmann did. “Justin Love was an extraordinary person. I was allowed to get to know and appreciate Justin as a player in Ludwigsburg. His sudden death affected me very much. My thoughts and condolences are with his family, I wish them much strength in this difficult time. Besides his undisputed quality on the field, Justin will remain in my memory as a humorous, life-loving, open and always friendly person. Above all, the many hours spent together between training sessions, at lunch at the “Blauer Engel” in Ludwigsburg, our trips to nearby Stuttgart and the road trips. Justin’s calm manner, his humor and the fact that he never took himself too seriously made him a link and often a mediator between the players and their different cultural backgrounds. On one side the American guys around Jerry Green and on the other side the players from former Yugoslavia around Miljan Goljovic and Ermin Jazvin. I will miss Justin“, stressed former German teammate Nils Mittmann

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