Cuse legend Pearl Washington loses battle with brain tumor, dies at 52

Dwayne “Pearl” Washington changed Syracuse basketball forever. (Getty Images)

One of the most famous players in Big East history, and perhaps the most well-known, beloved Syracuse player ever — Dwayne “Pearl” Washington — died on Wednesday, according to his family.

He was 52.

Washington battled a brain tumor since last summer, when he was first diagnosed with the malignant growth. He had the first of multiple surgeries in August, and to help offset his crippling medical costs, a GoFundMe page was started in January. It subsequently raised more than $63,000 to aid Washington in his fight.

In light of the news, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim did something on Wednesday morning he doesn’t do often: tweeted.

“It could be a month, it could be weeks,” Washington’s close friend, Mark Finney, said on April 9. “We’re just accepting that God is ready for him. It’s Pearl’s time.”

Washington spent most of his final weeks at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City. The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, deemed April 9, 2016, “Pearl Washington Day.” The affable and dazzling point guard grew up in Brooklyn.

Washington, who earned his nickname in jest from NBA legend Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, is a legend in central New York. Washington was a smooth, pretty, spiffy point guard who helped keep Syracuse competitive amid the most competitive era of Big East basketball: the early-to-mid 1980s. Over the course of his three-year career at Cuse from 1983-86, Washington averaged 15.6 points, 6.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals. The then-named Orangemen averaged 24 wins per season while Washington was at the school.

Washington, who was considered the No. 1 recruit in the country when he picked Syracuse, had one of the biggest plays in school history on Jan. 24, 1984, when he scored the winning basket from half court — the shot still only counted as two points — to defeat Boston College.