Roy Tarpley, the talented Dallas Mavericks power forward who flamed out of the NBA due to substance abuse issues, died Friday, at the age of 50. According to The Dallas Morning News there was no official cause of death, but multiple Mavericks officials were informed he had liver failure.
The Mavericks drafted Tarpley seventh in the 1986 draft, out of the University of Michigan. He came along in the middle of the Mavericks only sustained run of success prior to the Mark Cuban/Dirk Nowitzki era, when they made the playoffs five seasons in a row from 1983-84 to 1987-88. He was supposed to be the player to put the Mavericks over the top and for awhile he was, combining with Derek Harper, Mark Aguirre, and Rolando Blackman to take them to the Western Conference Finals in 1988.
But soon after Tarpley was out of the league, playing only 19, 45, and 5 games respectively over the next three seasons as he dealt with injuries, and then much more seriously, with substance abuse. In 1991 he was banned from the league after multiple DWIs and substance abuse violations, before being reinstated in 1994. He played decently enough for 55 games during his comeback, but violated the terms of reinstatement by drinking alcohol, and was once again banished from the league. He spent the next decade bouncing around the globe playing basketball anywhere but the NBA.
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