By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Norfolk was the final stop for former NBA star Moses Malone, 60, who was found dead in his Waterside Marriott hotel room on September 13. The basketball legend led the Philadelphia 76ers to their second league crown in 1983.
The preliminary cause of death was heart failure, according to Norfolk Police reports.
News of Malone’s death sent ripples throughout the Hampton Roads community. Malone, who lived in Sugarland, Texas, was in Norfolk for the annual series of fundraising events for the Still Hope Foundation, a non-profit group that assists single mothers in the region.
According to local police reports, Malone was scheduled to participate in a golf tournament with friends who noticed him absent, and he did not respond to calls to his room.
Hotel staff were dispatched to his hotel room where they found him unresponsive and summoned Norfolk Fire-Rescue who pronounced him dead.
Tony Brothers and his wife Monica founded the foundation in 2007. He said that a mutual friend introduced Malone to him five years ago.
Brothers, who refereed for the NBA, said he crossed paths with Malone at various games the MVP attended during the years after he retired from the game.
Malone was known to lend his celebrity to worthy causes.
“He was the kindest down to earth person I know,” said Brothers. “People would approach him for a pic with him and he would not deny anyone. He did not ask for money, security or others things for his work. He always looked forward to coming down with his friends of Petersburg.”
Financial Investment advisor Vincent Carpenter of Chesapeake, was one of the last people to see Malone alive at the Chrysler Hall Theater in downtown Norfolk.
Carpenter said he saw Malone at a comedy show featuring Lavell Crawford at the Chrysler.
“I saw him on the way into the building and I said ‘thanks Big Mo for your service.’” Carpenter recalled. “He was dressed well and did not look ill at all. We are all surprised and shocked at his news of his death.”
Carpenter said he saw Malone at the fundraising event last year.
“He was very down to earth,” said Carpenter. “He was a stellar performer in the NBA who, like others, did not embarrass Hampton Roads or himself during his long and storied career.”
Malone was a native of Petersburg, Va., and helped that city’s high school team with a state basketball championship.
He became Petersburg’s first high school player to play professional basketball when he join the Utah Stars of the old American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1974.
In 1976 he moved to the NBA. He was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1982, while playing with Houston. Malone joined the 76ers in 1983 and led Philly to its second championship by sweeping their opponents in four games in the tournament.
During his career at one point he was named “Chairman of the Board” for leading the NBA in offensive rebounds from 1980 to 1985.
He was one of nine players to be named MVP at least three times and was named one of the league’s top 50 players.
After a one year stint with the San Antonio, Malone retired.