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Shock as tragedy strikes Rasmus Larsen
BROENDBY - The basketball community in Denmark, Belgium and around Europe is in deep mourning following the news that Rasmus Larsen has passed away, at the age of 20.
The Danish international was found dead in his home in Charleroi by team staff on Wednesday afternoon, his club Proximus Spirou announced.
Club officials had become concerned after Larsen failed to appear at the team meeting prior to departure for Ostend, where Charleroi were scheduled to face Telenet Oostende in Game 1 of the Belgian league play-off semi-finals.
A preliminary report by the coroner suggested death by natural causes, explained Charleroi president Giovanni Bozzi, in a state of shock.
The Belgian club immediately made arrangements for the family of the tragically departed player to arrive from Belgium, Bozzi added.
"We are in grief and express our heartfelt condolences to the family of Rasmus," an official Charleroi statement read.
"[He was] a nice young boy, popular with both fans and staff.
"This is a tremendous tragedy for his family and relatives."
Larsen was considered one of the biggest talents of Danish basketball in years and earned the nickname of 'Danish Dirk [Nowitzki]' early in his career because of his soft touch from mid-range and his 2.12m frame.
He left Denmark in the summer of 2012 to join Spanish club La Bruixa d'Or Manresa.
Although his first year in Spain was mired by injuries, he debuted in Liga Endesa last season with a splash, as he registered an efficiency rating of 37 on the opening day and claimed MVP honours.
Larsen signed for Charleroi this past summer and was averaging 5.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in the Belgian Scooore League.
He had first represented Denmark in the U16 European Championship Division B in 2009 and played in the U18 All-Star Game at EuroBasket 2011.
He was one of the sensations of the 2012 U18 European Championship, in what was Denmark's first-ever participation in Division A of the competition, as he ranked sixth in scoring and fifth in rebounding among all players.
A minute of silence is to be observed on Thursday in honour of Larsen prior to the start of the Adidas Next Generation Tournament (ANGT) at the Turkish Airlines Final Four in Madrid, Spain.