Former Atlanta Hawks forward/center Dan Roundfield drowned on Monday, off the Caribbean island of Aruba while helping his wife as she was struggling in rough waters. He was 59.
Roundfield, who played 11 professional seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Washington Bullets, as well as Atlanta, had been swimming with his wife, Bernie, on Monday when they found themselves in rough water beyond a protected reef area, said John Larmonie, an Aruba police spokesman.
Larmonie said that Roundfield was apparently swept away in a strong current as he tried to help his wife. Rescue workers and volunteers searched for him for around 90 minutes until they found his body trapped by rocks underwater.
“It’s a real tragedy,” Larmonie said. “He drowned saving his wife.”
The couple, who live in the Atlanta area, had come to the island with their two grandchildren, and were swimming in an area they had been to many times in past visits to Aruba.
“We always go to Baby Beach, and we go there because it’s so safe,” Bernie Roundfield told The Associated Press. “It happened so fast.”
A 6-foot-8 forward/center, Roundfield played for Central Michigan in college and began his pro career with Indiana. He was selected to the NBA All-Star team in three consecutive seasons from 1980-1982 while playing for the Hawks. He averaged 15.2 point per game for his NBA career.
“Danny represented the Hawks with dignity and pride both on and off the court, and this is a tragic loss for us all,” Hawks general manager Danny Ferry said.
In a statement released by the team, former Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins called Roundfield the “most honest and upfront person I knew. He taught me how to be a professional and took me under his wing,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, I will truly miss him.”
In addition to his wife, Roundfield is survived by his sons Christopher and Corey and two grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized at this time.