Former Syracuse star Pearl Washington dead at age 52

(AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine, File)
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Dwayne ‘Pearl’ Washington is dead at 52, Syracuse University announced on Wednesday morning.

He had spent the last year battling a brain tumor, undergoing surgery last fall, but he was unable to defeat the illness.

Washington was a playground legend in his hometown of New York City, becoming one of the Big East’s first “Point Gods“. A 6-foot-3 human highlight reel, Washington’s flair for the spectacular made him one of the best, and most entertaining, players in the country. The Big East was four years old when he first enrolled at Syracuse, and he played a starring role for the teams that made the Orange relevant in the conference for the first time.

Pearl’s most famous shot came in January of 1984, when he hit a half-court buzzer-beater to win a game against Boston College and proceeded to run directly down the tunnel and into the locker room:

Throughout the season, Syracuse players wore warmup shirts emblazoned with ‘Pearl’ on the front and his No. 31 on the back.

“There was no better guy,” head coach Jim Boeheim said after a game against Georgia Tech this season, “and there’s nobody who has meant more to our basketball program than Dwayne Washington.”