A yet to be discovered LittyHoops wrote this piece shortly after Malik Sealy tragic death on May 20, 2000. I can't remember if I ever used the essay for
a class or if it was just a bit of cathartic prose that helps one make sense of this chaos we call life.
A Malik Sealy Tribute
Perhaps an adolescent LittyHoops would truly believe that Sealy spins and reverse slams over his Airness to win the game.
Some young boys have imaginary friends. Some are infatuated with cars, action figures or video games.
My heroes were Redmen. My most prized Redmen was a tall guard named Malik. Malik Sealy that is,
the star basketball player on the St. John’s University basketball tea
A few days ago I typed in espn.go.com, just like I do every day. The headline was “T-Wolves Sealy dies in car crash”.
I was shocked, and confused. How should I react? He was my childhood hero, yet I have never
uttered more then a word in my life to him. He does not know me. How should I mourn his tragic death?
As I think back, I find it strange that a young Jewish boy could have such passion and hope in a bunch of black kids who play basketball at
a Catholic school. My first memory of Malik is watching him on TV against overmatched Central Connecticut St. Malik
was brilliant that day. As I sat in my den and marveled at this character on TV who exhibited such grace and poise I was captivated.
Malik jumped ahead of the Thundercats, He-man and even my former hero Don Mattingly in capturing my imagination. That day he scored over 40
points, and collected a triple double. He played effortlessly, with an indifference to any opposition. I don’t really remember much else from that year except that I evolved into a die-hard St. John’s fan and especially was enthralled by Malik.
The next year Malik was a senior; I was now in 5th grade. St. Johns was a preseason contender for the
national tittle. Nobody expected more then I did though. By now, my wardrobe consisted of St. John’s basketball T-shirts that my Mom had bought me
at the flea market. I wore a Redmen hat at all times, even in my own house. I convinced my dad to take
me to Madison Square Garden for an early season showdown with Indiana. Sealy was outplayed by Calbert Cheaney that day, and the loss was upsetting,
but it was such a thrill to see my hero in action that it made up for the defeat. A few weeks later, the Redmen took on Duke, a rematch to avenge
their loss to the Blue Devils in the NCAA tournament. Duke was #1 in the country and featured Christian Leitner and Bobby Hurley.
More importantly, my sister was a huge Duke fan, and this game was most important game ever. This was for bragging rights in the house!
From the beginning Duke dominated, and my heart sunk. To make matters worse, my sister took full advantage of her Blue Devils victory and by
halftime she had me hysterically crying. I locked myself in my room, shut off the lights and listened to the second half on the radio.
Between sobs, I listened to Malik almost lead the Redmen back into the game himself. But the deficit was too large, and I cried myself to
sleep as the game ended with my only condolence in the world being that Malik had not let me do
Malik went to the NBA with high hopes. I wanted him to be the next star. I
dreamed that he would be traded from the Pacers to the Knicks. Instead he was traded to the Clippers. Every night I would check the boxscore hoping
that his breakout game was last night. I wanted to see a boxscore like that magical day against Central Connecticut State. The only solace for me was that with Sealy playing on the Clippers it was actually possible to get a ticket to the Garden because nobody wanted to see the Clippers play anyway
I followed Sealy over the last 10 years. As I grew older I lost some of the implicit loyalty I had in 5th
grade. But Sealy was my favorite athlete. I bought a tie from his fashion company that he formed, Malik
Sealy XXI. I bought a CD in which he had a rap song. I collected all of his basketball cards. I saw him in the Movie “Eddie” and on TV shows.
Now as I reflect back on my hero after his tragic death I realize that I couldn’t have picked a better role model. Malik
was worthy of all my loyalty and devotion. He was one of the few athletes in professional sports whose life wasn’t defined by his sport.
He was a success off the court. He had a tight family and a young son. He pursued his acting
career and the fashion business, his interests since high school. He always was very professional on the court and played the game with hard work and
My only regret is that I never got to meet Malik, and never got the autograph that I so preciously desired. I was so
close to meeting him on many occasions. My little sister once met him at her sleep away camp. I once saw him at a St. Johns game but he was sitting on the other side of the Garden. The closet I ever came was when Malik was on the
Pistons and the came to New York to play. I got to the Garden extra early and persistently worked my way down to the court. As Sealy was warming out I nervously called out his name. I didn’t want to bother or annoy him, but wanted him to sign my St. Johns
Yearbook. After I shouted his name he looked over, said “whassup” and went back to shooting. He was
casual, quiet and indifferent. Just what I had hoped for
Thanks Malik. Thanks for being worthy of my faith. Thanks for giving me
a childhood hero. A prayer goes out to you and your family.