LONG BEACH, Calif. — A California podiatrist who made history when he shot 2,750 consecutive free throws has died. He was 94.
Dr. Tom Amberry died in Long Beach on March 18, said his granddaughter, Roxanne Amberry.
The retired podiatrist earned a spot in Guinness World Records and brief celebrity in 1993 after he lobbed in shot after shot for 12 hours.
Amberry later said he could have shot many more free throws, but a janitor interrupted him because it was time turn off the lights and close the small rec center gym in Orange County.
“I could have made more — a lot more,” Amberry said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “But they were closing the gym, so they kicked me out.”
Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Amberry played basketball for the University of North Dakota and later transferred to Long Beach City College, where he was named Junior College Player of the Year.
He then was offered a contract by the then-Minneapolis Lakers, but instead chose to attend podiatry school. He opened his own practice in Long Beach in 1951.
Amberry made basketball his hobby after retiring in 1991 and would shoot at least 500 free throws at an athletic club in Seal Beach each day, except for Sunday.
He made 500 consecutive free throws on 473 separate occasions, according to notes he kept.
“A free throw takes six seconds, and you can’t think of anything else during those six seconds,” he explained to Sports Illustrated in 1994.
Amberry wrote a book titled “Free Throw: 7 Steps to Success at the Free Throw Line” and was in high demand by basketball coaches from high school to the NBA.
Amberry is survived by sons Bill, Tom and Robert, 12 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Elon, and a son, Tim.