Thomas "Tommy" Hawkins (1936 - 2017)

Thomas “Tommy” Hawkins, a former NBA forward who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1950s and ‘60s, died Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, at his home in Malibu, California, according to multiple news sources. He was 80.

Jeanie Buss, the CEO and controlling owner of the Lakers, shared the team’s condolences for Hawkins in a news release:

“We are saddened to hear the news regarding Tommy Hawkins. He was and will always be part of the Lakers family. He was a member of the Lakers when the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, and he made LA his home,” Buss said. “Tommy not only contributed as a player but also as a sports executive and broadcaster. His baritone voice and easy demeanor made him a favorite of the fans and media as well as everyone who had the honor of calling him a friend.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hawkins family.”

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Thomas Jerome Hawkins was born Dec. 22, 1936, in Chicago. He was a star athlete at the former Parker High School, which later became Paul Robeson High School, on Chicago’s South Side.

Hawkins was a standout scholarship player for Notre Dame between 1956 and 1959. The school’s first black basketball star, Hawkins was named a second-team All-American in 1958 by United Press International.

He was a first-round NBA draft pick by the Minneapolis Lakers, the third player chosen overall.

Hawkins recalled the team’s Minnesota days in a 1999 interview.

“In those days, no one cared about the players’ knees or ankles. The wooden floor was laid right down on the concrete,” Hawkins said. “And the plumbing! We had a rule – if someone was using the shower, no one was allowed to flush the toilet.”

The team later relocated to sunny California.

The 6-foot-5 forward played for the Lakers between 1959 and 1962. He then joined the Cincinnati Royals team and was with that franchise from 1962 to 1966. He rejoined the Lakers in 1966 and retired from the NBA in 1969.

Over his 10-year NBA career, according to, Hawkins scored 6,672 points, or 8.7 points per game; collected 4,607 rebounds, or 6.7 rebounds per game; and 871 assists, about one assist per game.

After his professional career ended, Hawkins became a radio and TV broadcaster. He also served for a time as vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball team. (In the above photograph, Hawkins and Tommy Lasorda, the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager, greet each other in 2000.)

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