Aug. 16, 2017
Tom Hawkins–a two-time University of Notre Dame men’s basketball All-American, Notre Dame All-Century Team member, Notre Dame Ring of Honor inductee and 1959 Notre Dame graduate–passed away today at his home in Malibu, California.
Hawkins was the first African-American to earn All-America honors as a student-athlete at Notre Dame.
“I feel blessed and privileged that I got to develop a relationship with him as the head coach at Notre Dame,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. “Tom was a trailblazer, a class act and a true Notre Dame man.”
A transcendent athletic talent out of Parker High School in Chicago, Hawkins was the first Irish player to average in double figures for scoring and rebounding during each of his three seasons (freshmen were ineligible during his collegiate career). His 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest standing school record in the history of Notre Dame basketball.
He averaged 20.6 points and 17.3 rebounds as a sophomore in 1956-57, 25.2 points and 17.2 rebounds (his 499 rebounds that year remain a single-season mark) as a junior in 1957-58 and 23.4 points and 15.2 rebounds as a senior co-captain in 1958-59. When he graduated Hawkins was Notre Dame’s top career scorer with 1,820 points.
Hawkins earned first-team All-America honors as a senior from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and as a junior from International News Service. Associated Press named him to its third team in 1957-58 and second team in 1958-59.
Drafted in the first round (third overall pick) by the Minneapolis Lakers, Hawkins played 10 years in the National Basketball Association with Minneapolis, the Cincinnati Royals and the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 6,672 points and grabbed 4,607 rebounds in the NBA.
Hawkins’ life off the basketball court was as equally distinguished as his playing career. As a player representative, he played a key role in the first collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union and the NBA. After his playing career, he worked in radio and television and served as the vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2012, Hawkins authored a book on poetry entitled Life’s Reflections: Poetry for the People.
Hawkins’ son, Kevin, graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1981 and was a four-year member of the Irish basketball team.
Funeral arrangements are pending.