Thunder's Daequan Cook adopts Ohio family after tragedy
Daequan Cook's outlook on life was changed by the death of a young boy from Dayton, Ohio, with a similar name, DaQuan Sales.
The story shook Daequan Cook to the core the moment he laid eyes on it.
He knew immediately he had to do something.
Tragedy had struck, and every detail landed right on Cook's doorstep.
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On June 13, 2009, a little boy was killed by a hit-and-run. He was 12 years old.
Any human with a heart would have compassion for that alone.
But this little boy's name was DaQuan Sales. His prename was pronounced the same way as the first-year Thunder shooting guard's. Sales was killed in Dayton, Ohio, in a neighborhood not far from where Cook grew up.
“It just really hit me,” Cook said. “Hit me in a spot, a very soft spot.”
Cook was a member of the Miami Heat at the time. He was entering his third NBA season as a rising sharp-shooting threat. He had won the NBA's 3-point shootout that February at All-Star Weekend in Phoenix. Things were looking up for Cook's career.
Then came a reality check.
Sales was one of Cook's biggest fans. The kid loved basketball and wanted to be just like the reigning 3-point king. Sales knew Cook's stats, rooted for him whenever he was on television and pretended he was Cook while on the playground.
Cook hardly could believe how the tragedy took place.
Sales was riding his bike along Elmhurst Road that Saturday when he was struck by a white Buick that had crossed a double yellow line. Sales was pedaling back home after retrieving a registration form to attend Cook's annual basketball camp. The camp was scheduled to be held nine days later.
“His mom had told me about how he marked it on his calendar,” Cook said. “How it was one of the biggest events of his summer to do.”
Cook was in Miami at the time of the incident. The Heat's media relations staff had gotten wind of the tragedy and passed along the particulars to Cook. It wasn't long before Cook called up with his mother, Renee, to get her advice. She told him to follow his heart.
With the help of Albert Powell, Cook's high school coach at Dunbar High in Dayton, Cook reached out to Sales' family. He sponsored Sales' three siblings and 10 other friends at that year's camp.
“I felt like I had to do something for that kid and his family,” Cook said.