Roy Tarpley, the talented but often troubled former center of the Dallas Mavericks, has died at the age of 50.
Though the coroner has yet to make an official ruling on the cause of death, there is speculation that liver failure will be a part of the equation. According to reports, Tarpley died while in care of the Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.
At 6’11” Tarpley had a unique combination of size, strength and agility which resulted in him being the seventh overall pick out of Michigan in the 1986 draft for the Mavs. He took home Sixth Man of the Year honors in only his second year in the league before substance abuse and other troubles sabotaged the remainder of his promising career.
“If Roy had stayed healthy, he could have been one of the top 50 players ever,” said Brad Davis who played with Tarpley and serves as the Mavericks’ radio analyst and player-development coach. “He could do it all — shoot, score, rebound, pass and defend. We’re all sorry to hear of his passing.”
In the 1989-90 season, Tarpley was suspended for a DWI charge and resisting arrest. The next year he racked up two more DWI charges and was banned from the league as a result of violating the league’s drug-use policies. He triumphantly returned to the Mavericks in 1994, but it was short lived as he was permanently barred in December 1995 for violating the conditions of his aftercare program.
The year 2007 saw Tarpley filing suit against the NBA and Mavericks claiming that the league’s refusal to reinstate him violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. All parties later agreed to an out of court settlement in the matter.
After the NBA, Tarpley played briefly in the Continental Basketball Association and for a few overseas teams before retiring for good.
“Our condolences go out to the family of Roy Tarpley,” Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban said on Twitter and later in an official statement issued. “RIP Roy. Mavs fans everywhere will remember you fondly.”