The sudden death of Gardena Serra boys’ basketball coach Dwan Hurt stunned not only a basketball program, a school, and a community, but also the entire basketball world of Southern California and beyond.
The 53-year-old Hurt was about to begin the 29th season as his prep alma mater’s head coach.
During that stretch Hurt, who also graduated from Gonzaga University in 1986 (where he once served as a back-up to future Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton), coached the Cavaliers to eight California Interscholastic Federation Southern Championships.
The most recent of those came barely nine months ago, when his team edged Sherman Oaks of Notre Dame, 53-50, in the March 4 4AA championship game.
Hurt, who also served as the school’s Dean of Discipline, coached athletes who reached the NBA (guard Pooh Jeter) and will soon reach the NFL (USC’s Adoree Jackson).
“Lost for words . . . thanks for your time, teachings, love and support,” Jeter tweeted.
“Rest in Paradise, Coach, and thank you for everything,” Jackson tweeted in part, the day before he scored three touchdowns against Notre Dame in the Coliseum.
Hurt’s long-time assistant, Bernard McCrumby, will serve as the program’s interim head coach when the Cavaliers open their season on Friday (Dec. 2) when they visit Inglewood High.
“He had a heart as big as the Pacific Ocean,” McCrumby told the Daily Breeze. “He was very private but there were two things he loved more than anything – his family and Serra High.”
The respect and fondness felt for Hurt extended well beyond the Serra campus and the athletes he coached and mentored.
Santa Margarita Coach Jeff Reinert was a teammate of Hurt’s at Gonzaga and they remained close since.
“He was a great man and great friend – he will be greatly missed,” Reinert said at Redondo High on Friday afternoon, speaking to the crowd and players in a tribute to Hurt just moments before Reinert’s team took on the host Sea Hawks.
Hurt also served as friend and mentor of sorts to numerous coaches in Southern California – even those whose teams he coached against.
“I’d know him since I played in high school,” said Reggie Morris Jr., whose teams at Leuzinger, St. Bernard and Redondo played against Hurt and his Cavaliers.
Morris, who coached NBA all-pro Russell Westbrook and is now an assistant at Loyola Marymount University, said that Hurt “always took as interest in me and became a mentor of sorts to me.
“We would always check in with one another. With even as great a competitor as he was he made sure he passed along not only to me but a lot of other young coaches as well. He was a positive role model for me and other African-American coaches. He made sure that we carried ourselves with integrity and pride. He wanted us to live up to the standard that he set for us to follow. He spoke to us about our families and about being a good man for players to follow.”
And that’s why Hurt’s legacy will be carried by a lot more than the 500-plus games and all of those on-court championships.