NBA legend Darryl Dawkins passed away on the morning of August 27 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, after suffering a fatal heart attack. The former pro-basketball player was only 58 years old.
The icon was active on social media barely 18 hours prior to being rushed to Lehigh County Hospital. Despite a pending autopsy, his family revealed the news in a moving statement through the same NBA that made him famous: “Darryl touched the hearts and spirits of so many with his big smile and personality, ferocious dunks, but more than anything, his huge, loving heart.”
Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, said, “The NBA family is heartbroken by the sudden and tragic passing of Darryl Dawkins,” who they would always remember for his “incredible talent, his infectious enthusiasm, and boundless generosity.” Silver also described the athlete’s game as passionate and filled with joy and integrity.
Scott O’Neil, CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers (Dawkins’ old team), stated that Dawkins would “always have a special place in our hearts.” Fellow basketball professionals, Vince Carter, Dwight Howard, and Allen Iverson also took to Twitter to profess their shock and disappointment over the loss of their fallen player. Dawkins will clearly be remembered exactly how he wanted, for his mind and vivid imagination, despite his great sports career.
The towering 6-foot-11 athlete made his debut for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1975, straight out of high school. This made him the first player to make such a huge leap after Moses Malone’s ABA jump the previous year.
Once, 25-time Grammy-winning world famous musician Stevie Wonder summoned Dawkins to meet him in the 76ers’ locker room. Wonder may be blind, but he was still keen to meet the man who broke the backboard, not once but twice, with his dunks. In 2011, the late player beamed as he revealed in an interview how “a guy who never saw” him gave him the name “Chocolate Thunder,” a moniker that stuck.
Besides this, Dawkins himself nicknamed his dunks as “Rim Wrecker,” “Yo-Mama,” and “Look Out Below.” Fellow NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal even called him the “father of power dunking,” adding, “I’m just one of his sons.”
“Legendary dunker Darryl Dawkins dies,” ESPN web site, August 27, 2015; http://goo.gl/XQQqxq.