Red Rocha dead at 86 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Red Rocha dead at 86

By Mike Cherry bio | email

CORVALLIS (HawaiiNewsNow) - 86-year old Coach Ephraim "Red" Rocha* died Saturday at his home in Oregon after battling cancer the past three years.

Rocha is best known for coaching Hawaii's successful "Fab 5" back in the early 70s.

But the Hilo native also made a mark in the world of basketball before he headed to the sidelines.

In 1947 Rocha was named an all-American as the center for Oregon State University.

He then played in the BAA and the NBA in the late 40s and early 50s, eventually winning a title with the Syracuse Nationals in 1955.

He rounded out his pro-resume as the head coach for the Detroit Pistons.

After spending time as a coach in Hawaii's Armed Forces League and then at UH, Rocha spent time as a commentator along side current K5 broadcaster Jim Leahey.

"And what was amazing to me was that every time we went to an airport, no matter where it was, all across the country, you heard these two distinct words, "hey red", said Leahey. "Everybody knew him, from shoe shine boys to baggage handlers, Red knew them all. His passing is the passing of a person who's likeness we shall not see for a long period of time", added Leahey.

Rocha is survived by his 3 daughters, 9 grand children, 14 great grand children, and 7 great great grandchildren.

Services have been scheduled for the 20th in Corvallis, Oregon.


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