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Tommy Hawkins, 80, College Basketball Trailblazer, Dies

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.

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