“Life is far too short. : ( RIP MD.” – Seattle Storm’s Lauren Jackson via Twitter
Former WNBA star Margo Dydek passed away Friday at her home in Brisbane at just 37 years of age. Dydek had been in a medically induced coma for the past week after suffering a heart attack. The Poland-born Dydek was pregnant with her third child.
According to a report by the Associated Press, Cathie Roberts, the operations manager for the Northside Wizards in the Queensland Basketball League, where Dydek was head coach, confirmed her death. Roberts said that Dydek was at an early stage in her pregnancy and that her unborn child had also died.
Dydek was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 WNBA draft by the Utah Starzz. She also played for the San Antonio Silver Stars, Connecticut Sun, and Los Angeles Sparks. The 7-foot 2-inch Dydek was the tallest player ever to play in the WNBA.
This is one of those times.
The passing of Margo Dydek is just incredibly sad. Gut-wrenching. The grief felt in the women’s basketball community feels like a punch in the stomach.
It’s not just that she passed at such a young age; it’s so much more than that. You’ll never hear or read a negative thing about her. Dydek was a fun-loving, jovial person who simply loved life. She cared deeply about her family, knew that basketball (and her height) didn’t define her, and had an appreciation for the “little” things.
Dozens of players have said that they couldn’t help but feel happy around Dydek; she lifted your spirits and had that type of personality that always put a smile on your face.
And since they can say it infinitely better than we can, here’s what a few of her fellow players and teammates had to say:
Ticha Penicheiro, Los Angeles Sparks: “I’m very sad right now. Angry. Confused. My heart is just so heavy! I have known Margo since I was 16 when the Portuguese National Team played the Polish Team. We then reunited again in ’98-99 and ’99-00 when we were teammates in Gdynia, Poland.
Margo and her family took me in, cooked for me, took me shopping, taught me Polish…I have so many good memories of her! She definitely was a ‘gentle giant’. Her 7’2″ frame could be intimidating but everybody that had a chance to meet her knows how caring, loving, funny, genuine and humble she was; and what a big heart she had! I am very blessed to have had the chance to meet Margo not only on the court, but most importantly off the court. My heart aches for the loss of a good friend and I continue to pray for her family.”
Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever: “Margo was an awesome person more than anything. I remember just how sweet and caring she was towards everyone. She’s definitely doing to be missed and both her and her family will be in everyone’s prayers.”
Tina Thompson, Los Angeles Sparks: “Margo was an awesome person. She was full of life and just a kind, spirited person. She had a welcoming aura about her; she loved to dance and made sure everyone around her was having a good time. If not, she was sure to have a good time anyway. Not often do you come across a person that smiled all the time; Margo was one of those people. Special. Tall in stature, huge in heart.
To know her was to love her. Margo will be missed.”
Swin Cash, Seattle Storm: “Margo was a gentle soul and humble spirit. My heart, thoughts and prayer are with her children and family. If you ever got a chance to meet, play with or against Margo you know just how special she was.”
Delisha Milton-Jones, Los Angeles Sparks: “Margo definitely brought sunshine into my life. Having her around was always a treat because she was so easy going and made you feel so comfortable. The only thing that gives me peace about her passing is the fact that I’m more than sure she is in good hands now. To be honest, we could’ve never given her her just due here on Earth the way I know God will. Margo, from my heart to yours, thanks for being you and leaving an impression on my life that will last a lifetime.”
Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota Lynx: “Margo was a great teammate and one of the kindest people you could ever meet. The position she played on the court really fit who was she was off the court and in life as well. She always had everyone’s back. She was there to block shots and make you look good if you got beat off the dribble. She was always there for you if you needed her at any time day or night.
One memory I had is during my first year overseas with Margo. Along with being teammates in Connecticut for three seasons we were teammates for one season in Ekaterinburg, Russia. So, one night a pipe burst in my apartment and there was water spraying everywhere and I could not get it to stop. This also was my first season in Europe and she was the only person I knew over there. Anyway, I called Margo in the middle of the night to come help me and of course she was right there and helped me figure out how to stop it and get someone who spoke Russian to get the leak to stop. She spoke five languages fluently so she could pretty much help you at any time no matter where in the world you were. I was in such a pinch and my whole apartment might have flooded if it wasn’t for Margo! She was there for me in an instant.”
Cappie Pondexter, New York Liberty: “I’d like to share the story of me and Margo on the court as it was an experience that I will always remember.
It was my first All-Star appearance which was in New York five years ago. I was young and confident and we were on the elevator and I told her, ‘I don’t care how tall you are, you will never block my shot because no one can!’
So, the All-Star game comes around and the perfect situation happens. I’m on a fast break and Margo was on the block. I drive at her full speed and try to jump over her! Of course, she blocks it and waives her finger Mutombo-style and said, ‘I told you I was gonna block it!’
That was the start of our friendship. She definitely will be missed.”
Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars: “As tall as Margo stood on the basketball floor, she stood even taller off of it because of her tremendous character and kind spirit. She impacted games, but more importantly she impacted the lives around her for the better — and did it so gracefully! You’ll be missed…and never forgotten.”
Temeka Johnson, Phoenix Mercury: “I can remember when the league did a photo of myself and Margo as the tallest and shortest woman in the league. I was always in awe of how tall she was, but that never took the attention off of how special she was as a basketball player. I’m talking a soft touch on her shot, nice foot work, and a great passer. I think we connected in ways that others would not have thought of. As a taller player, she was doing things that most didn’t think she can do and as the smallest player I was also in that same boat. This was back in 2005 but in 2008 when we played together, I got to know that sweet, nice, and soft-spoken Margo and that made everything even more exciting for me. I was blessed to have crossed paths with such an amazing woman. It wasn’t her height; it was the fun, respectful, caring way that gravitated you to her. Margo will be missed and I wish her husband, kids, and family all the best during this time.”