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Darryl Dawkins, "Chocolate Thunder", Passed Away This Morning

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RIP.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Former 76er and long-time NBA ambassador Darryl Dawkins passed away this morning due to a heart attack at age 58. Below is a statement from Darryl's family:

The Sixers have also issued a statement, via CEO Scott O'Neil:

The Sixers family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of an absolute legend, Darryl Dawkins. We've lost a dear friend and an iconic figure, both on and off the court. We remember fondly not only his thunderous dunks, but more importantly his powerful presence and personality. Simply put, Darryl Dawkins was beloved—by his family, friends, former teammates and his fans all over the globe. His endearing charm, infectious smile and unparalleled sense of humor will be sorely missed. ‘Chocolate Thunder' will always have a special place in our hearts. His family is in our thoughts and prayers.

Dawkins was famous for mostly off-court accomplishments, primarily being a legendary dunker and talker and a self-professed immigrant from the Planet Lovetron. He also played 14 NBA seasons and was one of a few non-modern NBA players to come right to the league out of high school.

My favorite Darryl Dawkins moment was more of a personal thing. I had the chance to interview him as part of a promotion for, of all things, a party thrown by Captain Morgan. It's still to this date my only one-on-one interview with an NBA player or former player. I over-prepared for my 15 minutes and had like 15 questions but only needed a few to actually get through the interview because he made it really easy and comfortable for me to go through with it. I also couldn't get out of my college job to go through with it, so I conducted the interview over the phone in the middle of a tutoring session with two Temple University football players.

Maybe most notable in what he said was that he was unimpressed with Blake Griffin's dunk over a Kia, saying if it were him that "I'd dunk over a motorhome." He also told the Stevie Wonder story about his Chocolate Thunder nickname, and this was like four years ago before the "Stevie Ain't Blind" conspiracy theories were widespread.

Maybe the NBA's all-time self-promoter, Dawkins turned a relatively ordinary NBA career into a career as an ambassador of the game. RIP big guy, you were one of a kind.