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Former NBA star Darryl Dawkins passes away at age 58

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In sad news, we learned on Thursday afternoon that former Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets big man Darryl Dawkins passed away at age 58. Dawkins, known as "Chocolate Thunder," passed in Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania, as SB Nation reported.

Dawkins played 14 seasons in the NBA, starting with the Philadelphia 76ers for seven seasons, before being traded to the New Jersey Nets. He played five seasons with the Nets, from 1982-1987. He averaged 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in just over 26 minutes per game while with the Nets.

He also played the role of team ambassador for the Nets, particularly as they made the move to Brooklyn, as well as having a brief stint with the Harlem Globetrotters. Dawkins, up until his passing, remained a part of being in and around the NBA. My most recent memory of Dawkins was seeing him at the NBA Draft at Barclays Center and watching as he took photos with fans and signed autographs.

Here is the full statement released by the Brooklyn Nets:

"The entire Brooklyn Nets organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of legendary player Darryl Dawkins. As a member of the Nets in the 1980’s, Darryl, known as Chocolate Thunder, entertained fans on the court with his powerful dunks and effervescent personality, and also made an enormous impact in the community. Following his playing career, Darryl remained a part of the Nets and NBA family by serving as an ambassador and sharing his love of the game with countless fans. He had an amazing personality and touched everyone in a positive way. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Dawkins family and to all those who had the pleasure of knowing Darryl. He will be deeply missed."

Dawkins is one of four former Nets bigs to have passed away young and unexpectedly. Yinka Dare at age 32 in 2004, Armon Gilliam at age 47 in 2011, and Jack Haley at age 51 in 2015 are the other three.

Our thoughts remain with the Dawkins family.