I’ve never talked about this, because what reason would I ever have had to talk about this? In what I believe was the Summer of 2001 I flew down to Miami, Florida with my then-girlfriend to attend the wedding of her older sister to a very tall NBA player named Dwayne Schintzius. My memories of this whole time period are very fuzzy, but I recall hanging out with him a few times including spending some time at their house and visiting the chain restaurant they’d opened together in Ybor City. I remember the wedding reception: a lot more very tall men dancing with the kinds of tanned and enhanced women you’d expect to see populating Miami. At the time Dwayne was in-between teams and looking to play again. He was a nice guy, funny, easy-going, again that’s based on only several interactions with him but he always seemed like a good person. The marriage didn’t last very long after that, but neither did my relationship with that girlfriend.
I was saddened in a way that I couldn’t quite figure out when I heard about Dwayne’s passing. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him since that weekend and there is no way in hell he would’ve remembered who I was without a lot of explanation, but there’s something about the too-soon passing of someone that I tangentially knew in real life that makes it feel closer than if I’d just heard about any other athlete succumbing to leukemia.
So, RIP Dwayne.