In a hallway at McKale Center honoring Arizona legends, a red balloon in the shape of a heart was noticeable last week stuck to the poster of late Arizona great Sean Rooks.
The immediate thought was his daughter Khayla, a junior at Washington, probably placed it there before playing against the Wildcats. It happened to be the night of Valentine’s Day.
Not knowing for sure, I posted this on Twitter:
Came across the late Sean Rooks' photo tonight in the hallway at McKale Center with a heart taped to it. Not certain she did this but Rooks' daughter Khayla played tonight for Washington at McKale. #RIPWookie pic.twitter.com/eaUh18rqEd
Yesterday, Rooks’ son Kameron, formerly of Cal and San Diego State, noticed the post and alerted Khayla. She responded with a tweet mentioning: “He always did it big and showed me unconditional love on Valentine’s Day. I thought he deserved some himself. I miss that man more than anything.”
She added a heart and the hashtag #onelove.
Longtime KOLD-TV (Channel 13) sportscaster Kevin McCabe, who is now a FOX Sports Arizona account executive and radio host of AzPrepsLive 98.7 in Phoenix on Saturday mornings (9-11 a.m.), responded to Khayla’s tweet with this message:
“Your dad was a wonderful young man. All smiles, though a fierce competitor and great basketball player. Godspeed Khayla!”
“As he would always say #beardown“
Sean Rooks developed from being one of the Gumbys on the bench as a redshirt in 1987-88 — the Wildcats’ first Final Four season — to being one of the best post players in the nation as a senior in 1991-92. He was an honorable-mention All-American.
After he was a second-round pick of the Dallas Mavericks in 1992, he played 10 years in the NBA with the Mavericks, Timberwolves, Hawks, Lakers, Clippers, Hornets and Magic.
Rooks later went on to coach serving as an assistant coach in the NBA Development League for the Bakersfield Jam (2007–2008), the New Mexico Thunderbirds (2010–2011) and the Sioux Falls Skyforce (March 2012).
We Remember Sean Rookshttps://t.co/gsavzQYIAF
In 2012, he joined the Phoenix Suns’ player development staff. He resigned from the staff in January 2013 to take a coaching position overseas.
He then became an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014.
Rooks passed away at 46 years old of heart failure on June 7, 2016, a few hours after interviewing for an assistant coaching position with the New York Knicks.
His teammates and fans affectionately called him “Wookie.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.