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Legendary Sixer, backboard-shattering dunker Darryl Dawkins dies at 58

NBA House - Moynihan Station 2015

NBA House - Moynihan Station 2015

NBAE/Getty Images

From the planet Lovetron, 6'11" center Darryl Dawkins...

Dawkins — nicknamed Chocolate Thunder and using that wild introduction for a stretch — was a player you paid to see back in the late 70s and early 1980s, a guy who dunked so hard he shattered backboards all across the land. He was a fan favorite in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and even with visiting fans everywhere else he played.

Dawkins has passed away at the age of 58, something confirmed by and the NBA. His family released this statement.

“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 made history as the first player drafted directly out of high school to the NBA back in 1975. He went on to play 14 NBA seasons and fit the mold of physical big men of his era (he led the NBA in fouls given three times). Mostly, he was just fun to watch, because of the dunks and a, um, creative personality — for a stretch Dawkins claimed to be from the planet Lovetron where he said he practiced interplanetary funkmanship. But even after his playing days he stayed close to the game, an ambassador of the sport. A lot of today’s players looked up to him.

Rest in peace Chocolate Thunder. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.