n the wake of the untimely death of a Chinese basketball champion, netizens have noted an unusual coincidence regarding another star who recently died before his time.
The Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association announced early on Thursday morning that Ji Zhe had passed away following a more than yearlong fight with lung cancer. He was just 33 years old.
Ji’s number will be retired by the Ducks. He won three championships with Beijing this decade as part of teams led by former NBA star Stephon Marbury.
“This moment I feel saddened for your family members who love you,” Marbury eulogized his former teammate on Weibo. “My bro, my teammate, my companion, my captain, I hope everything is smooth in the other world. I pray that your family members can bear the pain of loss, and hope they can stand in braveness. They can feel the energy by people who love you everywhere in the world. R.I.P.”
Ji’s death comes eight days after that of Godfrey Gao, a 35-year-old Taiwanese-Canadian model/actor who collapsed while taking part in an extreme reality show in China.
As noted in a video that has gone viral on Chinese social media, one of Gao’s roles was in the 2017 Marbury biopic My Other Home (我是马布里) where he played a Ducks’ power forward who was based on Ji Zhe.
The pair of deaths has triggered a great deal of anxiety and soul-searching among Chinese netizens who have seen that even if you are young and in top physical shape, you could still be not long for this world.
“We should learn from them to cherish our lives and make the most of every day, because you never know when will be your last,” writes one Weibo user.