Tommy Hawkins, 80, College Basketball Trailblazer, Dies

Tommy Hawkins
Tommy Hawkins (Courtesy photo)

Tommy Hawkins, who was the first black basketball player to earn All-American honors at the University of Notre Dame and played 10 years in the NBA, died Aug. 16. He was 80.

According to family members, Hawkins was in good health and died in his sleep in his Malibu, California, home.

Before graduating from Notre Dame in 1959, Hawkins played on the school’s basketball team for three seasons, being the first player in the Fighting Irish’s history to average double figures for scoring and rebounding in each of his seasons. He led the team to a 44-13 record over his last two seasons, and his 1,318 career rebounds remains the oldest standing school record.

Drafted as the third pick overall in the 1959 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Lakers, Hawkins played one season in Minnesota before moving with the team to Los Angeles. He also played several seasons for the Cincinnati Royals before returning to the Lakers to finish his career.

He also served as a player representative, playing a key role in the first collective bargaining agreement with the player’s union.

Hawkins’ post-playing career included broadcast work for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he also worked as vice president of communications.

In 2004, Notre Dame named Hawkins to its All-Century team and inducted him into its Ring of Honor in 2015.

He is survived by his second wife, Layla, and their daughter Neda; his first wife, Dori, and their children Kevin, Karel, Traci and David; seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.


About Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer 113 Articles
Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her to just tackle one. The recent Howard University graduate is thankful to have a job and enjoys the thrill she gets from chasing the story, meeting new people and adding new bits of obscure information to her knowledge base. Dubbed with the nickname “Fun Fact” by her friends, Tatyana seems to be full of seemingly “random and useless” facts. Meanwhile, the rising rents in D.C. have driven her to wonder about the length of the adverse possession statute of limitations (15 years?). Despite disliking public speaking, she remembers being scolded for talking in class or for holding up strangers in drawn-out conversations. Her need to understand the world and its various inhabitants frequently lands her in conversations on topics often deemed taboo: politics, religion and money. Tatyana avoided sports in high school she because the thought of a crowd watching her play freaked her out, but found herself studying Arabic, traveling to Egypt and eating a pigeon. She uses social media to scope out meaningful and interesting stories and has been calling attention to fake news on the Internet for years.
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