Former NBA star and legendary dunker Darryl Dawkins passed away on Thursday at the age of 58 due to a heart attack. WFMZ.com first reported the news, and Dawkins’s family confirmed the death of “Chocolate Thunder” in a statement (via NBA.com):
“It is with great sadness that we share the passing of our beloved husband and father, Darryl Dawkins, who succumbed today to a heart attack. 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. His family, wife Janice, children Dara, Tabitha, Nicholas and Alexis, along with countless family, friends, and fans, all mourn his loss. More than anything Darryl accomplished in his basketball career as the inimitable ‘Chocolate Thunder,’ he was most proud of his role and responsibility as a husband and father. We ask that the public please respect our privacy as we grieve his loss.”
Dawkins was the first player in NBA history to go straight from high school to the NBA, and he enjoyed a 14-year career in the league, mostly with the Philadelphia 76ers (seven seasons) and New Jersey Nets (five seasons). Both the Sixers and Nets released statements on Dawkins’s death, showing how revered he was by those teams and throughout the league.
Dawkins never put up gaudy numbers, averaging 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds over the course of his career, but he became well known for his rim-rattling, and even glass-shattering, dunks:
Dawkins also had brief stints with the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons before injuries forced him out of the league. He played overseas in Italy for several years before coming back stateside and attempting an NBA comeback, but he was never able to make a roster. The big man also spent some time with the Harlem Globetrotters, in addition to playing and coaching in some smaller leagues. He was most recently the head coach of the Lehigh Carbon Community College men’s basketball team.