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Former Maverick Roy Tarpley has died at age 50

Tarpley, a gifted player who dealt with substance abuse, has died.

Mike Powell/Getty Images

Former Dallas Maverick Roy Tarpley has passed away at age 50. The Dallas Morning News reported his cause of death was liver failure.

Tarpley was drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft by the Mavericks out of the University of Michigan. In his first season, Tarpley averaged 7.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks and was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. The following season, he was named Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 13.5 points on 50 percent shooting and 11.8 rebounds in 28.5 minutes off the bench.

By all accounts, Tarpley was an extremely talented and athletic player, and my vague memories of him from my childhood confirm that. Unfortunately, those memories will always remain vague because Tarpley was also volatile. My introduction to the NBA came in the midst of his troubles.

Six games into his third season with Dallas, Tarpley was arrested for DWI and resisting arrest. In January of 1989, the NBA suspended him. He was suspended again in 1991 after another DWI arrest and later in the same year he was banned for violating the league's substance abuse policies.

Tarpley spent the next three seasons away from the NBA. He returned to the Mavericks for the 1994-95 season. In 55 games, he averaged 12.6 points and 8.2 rebounds. It was his last season in the league. Tarpley was banned from the NBA on December 6, 1995 for using alcohol and not complying with his court-appointed duties.

He averaged 12.6 points on 48.3 percent shooting, 10 rebounds, one assist, 1.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 280 games, all with the Mavericks. Here are some highlights:

Tarpley was unquestionably one of the most gifted players to don a Mavericks jersey. It's a shame that much of that talent was squandered. We all have our demons but perhaps if he dealt with his, the first jersey I owned would have been his and not Jason Kidd's.