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Former WNBA, Utah Starzz player Margo Dydek dies after heart attack

By Dennis Passa

Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 27 2011 3:01 p.m. MDT

This Sept. 11, 2008, photo shows Los Angeles Sparks' Margo Dydek, left, protecting the ball as Atlanta Dream's Katie Feenstra, right, defends during Dream's 83-72 victory in a WNBA basketball game, in Los Angeles. Dydek has died after suffering a heart attack a week ago and being placed in a medically induced coma. Cathy Roberts, the operations manager for the Northside Wizards in the Queensland Basketball League, where Dydek was head coach, told The Associated Press that Dydek, 37, died early Friday May 27, 2011.

Danny Moloshok, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

BRISBANE, Australia — Margo Dydek, a 7-foot-2 former WNBA player who led the league in blocks nine times, died Friday after being placed in a medically induced coma following a heart attack a week ago. She was 37.

Her death was confirmed to The Associated Press by Cathy Roberts, operations manager of the Northside Wizards in the Queensland Basketball League, where Dydek was the coach.

The Poland-born Dydek, pregnant with her third child, was stricken with a heart attack May 19 and collapsed at her home in Brisbane. Dydek was early in her pregnancy and the fetus died, Roberts said.

Dydek was once said to be the tallest active professional female basketball player. She was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 WNBA draft by the Utah Starzz. She also played for San Antonio, Connecticut and Los Angeles.

"She was a tremendous person, role model and athlete who touched the lives of her many fans and made an indelible mark on women's basketball around the world," WNBA President Laurel Richie said.

Dydek held the record for most blocks in a WNBA career (877 in 323 games) and led the league from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2005-07. In 2008, Dydek signed with the Los Angeles Sparks following time away from basketball to give birth to her first son.

Tina Thompson, a former teammate on the Sparks, said on the WNBA's Twitter feed: "My condolences to the family of Margo Dydek, may she rest in peace!"

According to Dydek's Facebook page, she was born to a 6-7 father and 6-3 mother. Her oldest of two sisters, Kashka, used to play for the Colorado Explosion of the now defunct ABL, and in Poland.

The Brisbane-based Wizards said on their website that Dydek died "peacefully and surrounded by her family."

"Always in our hearts — Margo. ... You were a much-loved member of our community and we will miss you greatly," the team said.

She is survived by her husband, David, and two sons, David, 3, and Alex, 7 months.

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