Former NBA center and 76ers assistant Sean Rooks passes away aged 46

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The NBA family and the basketball world is today mourning the loss of one of its own after Philadelphia 76ers assistant Sean Rooks passed away on Tuesday at the age of 46.

Rooks - a former NBA center - collapsed and died while having dinner at a Philadelphia restaurant, sources told The Undefeated's Marc Spears.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Rooks was in New York earlier that day interviewing with Knicks president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills for an assistant coaching position on Jeff Hornacek's staff. 

Wojnarowski said both parties were excited about coming to terms on an agreement to bring him to the Big Apple next season.

The former big man enjoyed a 12-year career in the game and represented seven NBA teams; the Dallas Mavericks - who drafted him with a second-round pick in 1992 - L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic. He played 749 career games and scored 4,676 points.

He moved into coaching in 2007 and after serving as an assistant coach in the D-League for several teams, he joined the Sixers organisation in 2014 as an assistant under Brett Brown, before he was released a few weeks ago.

''It is with a profound deal of sadness that we mourn the sudden loss of a beloved son, father and friend, Sean Rooks. Words simply cannot express the heartbreak and shock our entire organisation is feeling over this loss,'' 76ers co-managing owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer said on behalf of the team.

There has been an outpouring of tributes for him as players past and present and members of the league took to social media to pay tribute to Rooks.

"We are shocked and terribly saddened by the news of the death of Sean Rooks," Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. "During his time with the Lakers he was a true professional and was a favorite among teammates, coaches and staff. Sean was a friendly guy that everyone loved having around."

Rooks had two children, Khayla and son Kameron - a seven-footer basketballer who currently plays in college for the California Golden Bears.

His mother Deborah Brown also released a statement via the 76ers, saying: "It is with deep sadness and overwhelming grief that we mourn the sudden loss of my son, Sean. Our family asks that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this incredibly difficult time."

Before joining the NBA, Rooks was a star in college basketball for the Arizona Wildcats.

The 6'10" center averaged 16.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a senior at Arizona in 1992, and he was part of a graduating class that won 106 games under coach Lute Olson.

Olsen said the news was a "horrible shock" but described his former graduate as " a wonderful young man with a great disposition."

This compounds a sad week in the world of sports following the deaths of the great Muhammad Ali and MMA star Kimbo Slice. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of all three men.

Dallas Mavericks
Southwest Division
Western Conference
Philadelphia 76ers
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Eastern Conference
L.A. Lakers
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