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Steve Kerr saddened by death of ex-teammate Sean Rooks

The Los Angeles Clippers' Sean Rooks fends off

The Los Angeles Clippers' Sean Rooks fends off San Antonio Spurs defenders Antonio Daniels and Samaki Walker, right, during the first half of a game in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 7, 2001. Credit: AP / Jill Connelly

CLEVELAND — Steve Kerr said he was “devastated” at hearing former NBA player Sean Rooks had died Tuesday night. Rooks was 46.

Kerr and Rooks both attended the University of Arizona, and their sons were teammates this season at the University of California.

“Sean and I played together at Arizona, and I was devastated by the news,” the Warriors coach said after Golden State’s shootaround Wednesday. “”All of us who knew Sean are just crushed. It’s a horrible loss and we’re thinking most about Sean’s two kids, Kameron and Khayla, and hoping they’re doing OK. But it’s a huge loss.”

Rooks, the former 76ers assistant coach, reportedly collapsed and died at a Philadelphia restaurant Tuesday. Earlier in the day, he met with Knicks president Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and coach Jeff Hornacek in New York about an assistant coaching position on Hornacek’s staff. The Knicks released a statement from Hornacek on Wednesday.

“We are all saddened and shocked by the passing of Sean Rooks, especially since we had just met with him yesterday about the possibilities of joining our coaching staff,” Hornacek said. “His ability to work with big players and his passion for coaching were undeniable.”

Rooks spent 12 seasons playing in the NBA, and coached in the D-League before getting a position on Brett Brown’s staff with the 76ers.

“Sean Rooks was a wonderful person with a kind soul who deserved to live longer than he did,” Brown said in a statement. “Sean was with me for two years and helped our young players and coaching staff by sharing his experiences in such an endearing way.

“It was exciting for me to sit with him recently and see the enthusiasm he had while preparing to interview for the head coach position with an NBA D-League team. We would role-play, ask each other different questions, and when he left I felt like he had a real chance to make a significant advancement in his own coaching career.

“When he was offered the position just a few days later, we spoke of the challenges, growth and responsibility that would help him personally move his career forward as a head coach. He was genuinely excited by this offer, as well as other job opportunities that were coming his way.

“He meant so much to so many people. We are all deeply saddened by his loss and extend our condolences to his family during this time. He will be missed.”

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