Former NBA center and Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Sean Rooks died Tuesday at the age of 46.
“It is with deep sadness and overwhelming grief that we mourn the sudden loss of my son, Sean,” said Rooks’ mother, Deborah Brown, in a statement, per Rich Hoffman of PhillyVoice.com. “Our family asks that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this incredibly difficult time.”
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported Rooks died in a Philadelphia restaurant just hours after he interviewed for an assistant coaching job with the New York Knicks.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated first reported the news Tuesday. The Phoenix Suns extended their condolences to his family on Twitter.
Rooks, whom the Dallas Mavericks selected with the 30th overall pick in 1992, played 12 seasons in the NBA. He spent time with the Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks.
After retiring in 2004, Rooks transitioned into coaching. He worked as an assistant in the NBA Development League with the Bakersfield Jam, New Mexico Thunderbirds and Sioux Falls Skyforce before joining the Suns’ player development staff in 2012. The 76ers hired him as an assistant coach in 2014.
Working under Sixers head coach Brett Brown for the last two seasons, Rooks’ primary job was developing the team’s big men. The front office made sure he had plenty of work, drafting players like Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor since 2013.
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in May that the 76ers were not likely to renew Rooks’ contract for the 2016-17 season after the team went 10-72 last year.
Rooks had a good NBA career as a backup center, averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 749 career games. He was also a star in college at the University of Arizona, being named to the first-team All-Pac-10 in 1992 after averaging 16.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.