Dennis E. Hamilton 68, a talented basketball player, but first and foremost a devoted husband, father, Papa and friend, passed on peacefully to an exquisite eternity with his beloved Creator on June 18th at his home in Chandler. He had fought a valiant five year battle with cancer. Dennis Eugene Hamilton was born on May 8, 1944, in Merced, California to Esther Elizabeth and Vernon Harris Hamilton. When Dennis was 1 year old the family moved to Huntington Beach, California where he grew up. The Hamilton's lived across the street from the Meadowlark Country Club where his love for golf developed at an early age as he and his brother Gary caddied and picked up tips to improve their own games. He became a fine golfer and throughout life enjoyed spending spare time on the golf course. At Huntington Beach High School Dennis played basketball where he was All Orange County player of the year and All CIF in 1962, his senior year. He chose Arizona State University over several other universities' scholarship offers so that he could be close enough to home for his parents to see him play. As a Sun Devil, Dennis was a three year starter (1964-1966), scored over 1,000 points and remains number four among Sun Devils in career free throw percentage. He was second team All-WAC his senior year. After ASU he first played basketball in Europe for the Gulf Oil Team and the United States National Team. Upon returning home he signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers where he had the opportunity to play with future Hall of Famers Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, and was the first Sun Devil to play in an NBA championship series. In 1968 Dennis was traded to the Phoenix Suns in the expansion draft and was the first player to sign a Suns contract. During his professional basketball career he also played for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and the ABA's Pittsburgh Pipers. In 1968 while playing for the LA Lakers he married his college sweetheart and the love of his life, Charlene Saylor Hamilton. Once his basketball career ended Dennis's absolute core priorities set the course for the rest of his life. They were: his faith in Jesus, his committed love for his cherished Charlene and his family, and his genuine enjoyment of people. Popularly known for his time on the basketball court, the real beauty of the man showed brightest out of the limelight where he was known for his integrity, honesty and respect and compassion for others. He brought life and joy to relationships. These wonderful qualities bound the family together, set an example for his children and acquaintances and contributed to his long and successful career in commercial truck sales. Survivors include wife Charlene, daughter Holly (Lowell), son Brady (Jennie), his father Vernon Hamilton, brother Gary (Barbara), and his wonderful grandchildren Joy, Noah, Gracey and Brooklynn. A celebration of Dennis' life will be on Saturday, June 30 at 10AM, at Chandler Christian Church, 1825 S. Alma School Rd., Chandler, AZ. In lieu of flowers the family asks that you would make a donation to
in Dennis name. 3489 S. Mercy Rd., St. 101, Gilbert, Az. 85297.
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Published in The Arizona Republic on June 24, 2012