What's in a Number? The Story Behind Malik Sealy's Tragic Death and Kevin Garnett's Uniform

By Ryan Heckman


Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

New Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Garnett sure knows what’s in a number. Coming into the league, Garnett chose number 21 because it was worn by his friend Malik Sealy in college, who was then a part of the Minnesota Timberwolves alongside his buddy.

Garnett and Sealy only played one full season together, but the friendship between the two of them was a bond that developed quickly and could never be broken.

On May 20th, 2000 Garnett was celebrating his 24th birthday with family and friends and amongst the crowd, of course, was Sealy. The night of his party, Sealy was hit by a drunk driver on his way home from the celebration.

That season was Sealy’s best in the NBA so far and he was in the midst of posting career highs across the stat sheet. Sadly and tragically, it came to a sudden halt.

Now with the Nets, Garnett has chosen to shift his uniform number from #5 to #2 in honor of Sealy. With the Timberwolves, Sealy wore the number which was retired by Minnesota the year of his death.

Garnett was acquired by the Nets in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics this offseason, sending both him and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, forming arguably the most competitive starting five in the entire NBA.

The tenured veteran and former MVP has already won one championship with the Celtics, but this season appears to now mean more as he will be playing in honor of Sealy even more so. If the Nets win a title in the upcoming season, I have a feeling Garnett will be dedicating this one to his fallen teammate and long-time close friend.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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