Daequan Cook's Greatest Assist

Heat star honors the memory and comforts the family of an Ohio boy who idolized him

By Janie Campbell
|  Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009  |  Updated 1:31 PM PDT
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Heat Vs. Hawks: The Series

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Dayton's hometown hero is ours now, too: Daequan Cook takes it to the hoop against Atlanta. Daquan Sales was surely watching.

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DaQuan "DaDa" Sales couldn't get enough of the Heat's Daequan Cook.  The 12-year-old, from the same Dayton neighborhood as the Miami Heat star, pretended to be Cook when playing basketball, hoped he was beginning to look like him, cheered madly when Cook won the NBA's Three-Point Shootout, and even occassionally told people they were brothers.

“DaDa would eat, sleep and talk Daequan Cook,” his great grandfather, 76-year old Garfield Sales, told the Dayton Daily News.

DaQuan couldn't wait to attend the basketball camp Cook is putting on this week at his alma mater, Dunbar High in Ohio, and nearby Louise Troy Elementary School.  In fact, he was counting down the days -- just 9 to go -- when he was hit and killed June 13 riding his bicycle by a man making an illegal passing attempt.  The driver, who police say reeked of marijuana, was arrested three days later.

It was little consolation to his family, who faced the task of burying an eager little boy who'd help his neighbor, 82-year-old Miss Pauline, carry her groceries. "“He was just a special boy," said Garfield Sales. "Everybody felt it.”

Everybody including Daequan Cook.  After reading about Sales' death, Cook has done almost everything he could for the family.  He privately contacted them to help pay for DaQuan's funeral. He's sponsoring 10 of DaQuan's friends to the camp every year, and has pledged to dedicate an annual scholarship in Dayton to DaQuan. He also plans to bring other Heat family members to Ohio for a fundraiser so the scholarship might include more children.

And he showed up to console the family.

Cook spent an hour with the Saleses, consoling DaQuan's mother Janelle and having a long talk with Garfield. “[DaDa] was a lovely young man and he looked up to you,” Garfield told Cook. “You were a great role model.” 

Though Cook brought a pile of Heat merchandise, including a signed jersey, it was his other contributions that meant the most to them.

“Daequan really cared,” Garfield said. “He almost made me cry. Some little girl or boy will go to school because DaDa was on this earth and he chose Daequan Cook to be his role model.

“Though DaDa’s life was cut short, he’ll live on. Because of Daequan Cook, DaQuan Sales will live for a long, long, long time.”

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