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Oscar-nominated actor Michael Clarke Duncan played basketball at Alcorn State

Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan, the Oscar-nominated actor who was described by many as a 6-5, 300-pound “gentle giant,” passed away Monday from complications that stemmed from a heart attack he suffered in July. He was 54 years old.

Aside from his success with movies that include “The Green Mile” and his undeniable presence on the silver screen, uncovered an interesting bit about Clarke Duncan: he was also a former college basketball player, having played as a walk-on at Alcorn State in 1983-84.

“He was a tough, physical player,” Clarke Duncan’s former coach, Davey Whitney, told “He was undersized and didn’t weigh much back then, but he was very strong and powerful.”

Before coming to Alcorn State, Clarke Duncan played at Kankakee Community College (Ill.) before joining Alcorn State, but eventually had to leave the team due to what were deemed “family reasons.”

“And he was a pretty good player,” Whitney added. “He was just tough. He’d knock guys around. It’s really sad that he’s gone at such a young age.”

To read Jeff Goodman’s full story, click here.

Below is the trailer for “The Green Mile,” which garnered Clarke Duncan an Oscar nomination.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_