June 8, 2004
Tallahassee, Fla. – Ronalda Pierce, a 6-5 women’s basketball player from Florida State, died early Tuesday morning at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital at the age of 19.
Pierce, who would have been a sophomore on the Florida State team in 2004-05, played in all 29 of the Seminoles’ games last season as a true freshman averaging 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. She was the Class AA Player of the Year in Georgia as a senior at Turner County High in 2003 and was a three-time Class AA all-state selection. She was from Ashburn, GA.
“Words cannot begin to express the loss we feel,” said FSU head coach Sue Semrau. “Ronalda was a very special person and although she was with us for such a short time, she enriched our lives in many ways. She was a very important part of our Seminole family and we are going to miss her very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ronalda’s family during this tragedy.”
The Tallahassee Police Department released a statement that its investigators found no indications of foul play and included the medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy report, which said results indicate that Pierce died due to a ruptured aorta resulting from an aneurysm that was possibly the result of Marfan Syndrome. Confirmation of these preliminary results is pending further tests. The final medical examiner’s report will be issued in approximately two months.
Counseling and support assistance was immediately provided to the team members and basketball staff by FSU’s Victim’s Advocate Program, the Counseling Center and the Student Development and Life Skills program within the athletics department.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Pierce family and everyone associated with our women’s basketball team,” said FSU Director of Athletics Dave Hart. “We are fortunate to have a support group in place at FSU and we will make sure that the family, our student-athletes and the staff get the assistance they need. It is such a tragedy.”