Illya McGee Tribute on Shooting Stars: How Did He Die?

Image Credit: WKSU News

Peacock’s basketball film ‘Shooting Stars’ revolves around the adolescence of LeBron James as he goes on to become a national sensation while attending high school. LeBron, along with his four close friends, startles the basketball scene of the country with victories after victories, making St. Vincent in Akron an almost undefeatable team. The drama film explores LeBron’s relationship with the rest of the “Fab Five,” which comprises Little Dru, Willie McGee, Sian Cotton, and Romeo Travis. The intriguing film ends with a tribute to Illya McGee. Naturally, the viewers may want to know more about his death. Well, here’s everything you need to know about the same!

Who Was Illya McGee?

Illya McGee was the brother of Willie McGee, one of LeBron’s closest friends and a member of the “Fab Five.” Illya was a basketball star while he was in Chicago, Illinois. He played for the basketball team of Providence-St. Mel School, only to get recruited by the University of Akron. Although he was fourteen years older than Willie, they were very close as brothers. “The bond between Willie and Illya was unbreakable, so much so that Illya became terribly homesick when he went to the University of Akron. He wanted to return home, in large part because of Willie,” LeBron wrote in ‘Shooting Stars,’ the source text of the film he wrote with Buzz Bissinger.

Illya with Willie//Image Credit: Willie McGee/Instagram

Willie aspired to become a basketball player to follow in the footsteps of Illya. Since the brothers were inseparable, the elder one finally decided to take the younger one to Akron from Chicago. After becoming a champion with St. Vincent, Willie thanked his brother. “This is all because of you. I couldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for you,” Willie told his brother, as per LeBron’s book. “I love you. I’m so proud. You just made me the proudest person in the world,” Illya replied to his brother as per the source text of the film. Illya eventually became the assistant coach of St. Vincent’s men’s basketball team and trained students for fifteen years.

Illya was also involved with Oriana House Inc., a rehabilitation center committed to helping people with addiction and mental illness in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time of his death, he was serving as the vice president of programs at the center where he had worked for over thirty years.

How Did Illya McGee Die?

Illya McGee died on June 30, 2022, at the age of 52. His family members and friends haven’t publicized the cause of his death. He is survived by his wife Victoria JaNeen, daughters Aliyah Victoria and Amya JaNeen, sister Makeba, brothers Willie and Patrick, mother-in-law Vivian Walker, sister-in-law Natoya Walker-Minor, and an extended family of nephews and nieces. “How do I say Goodby to my Best friend, Brother, Father, Mentor, my Blueprint in life😇Decided you don’t say goodbye but see you later! Thankful for the 52 years and 360 days we had you on this 🌎Thank you for being you!” Willie shared upon the death of his brother.

Willie also named his son after Illya before the latter’s untimely demise. St. Vincent honored the memory of Illya by naming the locker room of the boys’ basketball team after him. “We honored a legend in the STVM basketball community. Tonight we officially dedicated the boys’ locker room to long-time boys assistant basketball coach Illya McGee who passed away abruptly this summer,” the Athletic department of the school shared. Illya is laid to rest in Glendale Cemetery, Akron.

Read More: Where Was Shooting Stars Filmed?