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Ferocious NBA Star Remembered

9/2/2015, 2:05 p.m.
Darryl Dawkins, whose board-shattering dunks earned him the moniker "Chocolate Thunder" and helped pave the way for breakaway rims, is ...
Ex-NBA star Darryl Dawkins, a.k.a. 'Chocolate Thunder' died last week at the age of 58.

(AP) -- Darryl Dawkins, whose board-shattering dunks earned him the moniker "Chocolate Thunder" and helped pave the way for breakaway rims, is being remembered after his death at the age of 58.

Dawkins died Thursday, Aug. 20 of a heart attack at the age of 58.

“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 said in a statement. "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."

Dawkins spent parts of 14 seasons in the NBA with Philadelphia, New Jersey, Utah and Detroit. He averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds in 726 career regular-season games.

"A great man, entertainer, athlete and ferocious dunker," former NBA guard Kevin Johnson wrote on Twitter. "He will be missed but not forgotten."

Dawkins was selected No. 5 in the 1975 NBA draft by the 76ers. His "Chocolate Thunder" nickname, he often said, was given to him by legendary singer Stevie Wonder - who is blind.

Tributes poured in quickly from across the league, including from the 76ers.

"You were one of my favorite players of all time," Houston center Dwight Howard posted Thursday on Instagram under a photo of Dawkins dunking in a game for the 76ers. "You were very inspirational to a lot of young players. Thank u for the long talks and great memories. I can't believe that you're gone. But you are in a better place. You were the originator of the dunk."