Margo Dydek – Life and Death of the Tallest WNBA Player

One thing is absolute in life and that is death. As it stands, some people leave this Earth for the spiritual plane earlier than others. One case would be Margo Dydek, the tallest woman to set foot in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Margo Dydek played center for different teams, which are the Utah Starzz, San Antonio Silver, Connecticut Sun, and Los Angeles Sparks. Born on April 28, 1974, in Warsaw, Poland, this Polish 7’2” WNBA player died at an early age of 37 on May 27, 2011.

Margo Dydek

Malorzata Dydek stands at a towering 7’2’’. With this height, it’s clear that she can block offensive opponents from shooting without jumping.

Before moving to the US to play in the WNBA, Dydek was living in Warsaw, Poland, with her father, mother, and two elder sisters. The family is quite known for the members’ exemplary statures. Her father’s height is 6’7” while her mother stands at 6’3”. As for her two elder sisters, the eldest has a height of 6’7” while the middle child stands at 6’6”. Margo Dydek was the tallest member of this household.

However, height wasn’t the only desirable trait for Dydek. Her primary defensive role earned her applauses and recognitions from fans, teammates, and WNBA officials. She even had the highest number of blocks during her time. In detail, Dydek had 877 successful blocks in 323 games.

Still, her average points in shooting two- and three-pointers were quite average. For instance, in 2003, she had an average two-point score of 4.6. Despite this fact, the Polish center earned the title of All-Star player that year. The league would reward her with the same award for her excellent performance in 2006.

Aside from the WNBA, other organizations took note of Dydek’s prime performance in the women’s basketball league. In 1999, Dydek received the Cross of Merit, a Polish civil state award. The country’s government gives this award to people it recognizes promoting noteworthy humanitarian services.

What is Margo Dydek’s Cause of Death?

On May 19, 2011, Dydek suffered a heart attack. At that time, she was also pregnant with her third child from her husband, David Twigg. She didn’t regain consciousness and passed away eight days later after the incident. The fetus inside her womb also didn’t survive.

Margo Dydek’s Basketball Career

Margo Dydek Basketball Career

Before moving to the US in May 1998, Margo Dydek played in the European athletic league. She played for the Olimpia Poznań, a multi-sport club featuring different athletic activities like boxing, judo, kendo, and, of course, basketball.

She would then play for the now-defunct Valenciennes Orchies, a French basketball team. Dydek played for the team for another two years from 1994. It was also at this time when she met her husband.

Dydek moved back to Poland in 1998. It’s at the time when she played for Fota Porta Gdynia. Also called Arka Gdynia, Dydek played for this professional women’s basketball club from Poland in 1998. She would then play with the club for several years while going through different sponsorships.

In May 1998, Dydek made her first trip to the US. She was in the pre-draft camp for the WNBA. The Utah Starzz even picked Dydek to be the 1st overall draft.

It was the beginning of Dydek’s wonderful WNBA career. She would soon receive different awards for her excellent performance on the court. These recognitions are:

In 2003, Dydek signed with the San Antonio Silver team. The contract was quite short-lived as the Polish center would only play for two seasons with this team. In 2005, she transferred to the Connecticut Suns and played for and with this specific team for three seasons.

Dydek’s last team was with the Los Angeles Sparks. She had to take a leave from the league because she was pregnant with her first son, David.

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What Other WNBA Players Have to Say About Margo Dydek?

The passing of Margo Dydek left gut-wrenching darkness in the hearts of her fans and fellow WNBA players. It’s safe to say that the grief felt by many WNBA players and employees was nothing short of overwhelming.

It’s quite difficult to see or hear negative things said about Dydek. She loved life much like many of her friends and relatives. She cared about her family and her career but she was still able to keep every aspect of her life separate from each other.

Dydek knew basketball was part of her life but it didn’t define her personality. Outside the court, she appreciated the little things, allowing her to keep on smiling as she went through life.

Upon entering the women’s basketball court, either as a player, coach, or spectator, her friends, relatives, and fans would have trouble keeping their spirits down. Dydek had this aura that can lift people’s spirits with her presence. She was the type of person that will find a way to put a smile on your face.

Her passing was a loss for everyone. Some players in the league took the news harder than others. Here are some of the things other players have to say about Dydek’s passing (from different interviews):

Tamika Catchings

This 6’1’’ player for the Indiana Fever team had the chance to go toe-to-toe with the Polish 7’2’’ player on some occasions. Catchings played the position of forward, which meant that she had to go through Dydek’s defense if she wanted to take a shot.

Although opponents in the basketball court, Catchings and Dydek shared smiles and laughs off-court. Catchings had the following to say upon the news of Dydek’s death:

"Margo was an awesome person more than anything. I remember just how sweet and caring she was towards everyone. She's definitely going to be missed and both she and her family will be in everyone's prayers."

Tina Thompson

Like Tamika Catchings, Tina Thompson played as the forward for three teams, which are the Houston Comets, Los Angeles Sparks, and Seattle Storm. If Dydek stayed with the Sparks in 2009, both she and Thompson would be playing for the same team.

Nonetheless, this Hall of Famer would get to know Dydek both on- and off-court. Like other people that knew Dydek, Thompson described the Polish center as a ‘kind and spirited person.’ Thompson also mentioned that Dydek had a welcoming aura and that she loved to dance.

Thompson also described Dydek to be a tall person but with a huge heart.

Swin Cash

Swin Cash was another player who had the chance to go against the Polish center. The 6’1” WNBA player for the Detroit Shock, Seattle Storm, Atlanta Dream, and New York Liberty had the chance to see the mighty and awe-inspiring presence of Dydek on the basketball court.

However, meeting Dydek off-court was a different story for Cash. She found Dydek to be a gentle soul with a humble spirit.

Lindsay Whalen

One of the many WNBA players that knew Dydek quite well is Lindsay Whalen. She played with Dydek in different seasons with the former being the guard while the latter as the center.

During an interview, Whalen tells a story about the time when she was overseas with Dydek. At that time, the team had to play for one season in Ekaterinburg, Russia. One night, the pipe in Whalen’s apartment burst, causing water to spray everywhere. Dydek rushed to the scene upon hearing about the incident.

Whalen mentioned that Dydek was more than welcome to help with the situation. Thankfully, Dydek can speak five languages fluently. Therefore, she was able to contact someone from the building to fix the burst pipe without it causing further damage.

Cappie Pondexter

As a member of the New York Liberty team, Cappie Pondexter recalled the time when she and Dydek first met in the court.

In that game, Pondexter was on the offensive as she told Dydek on the court that the towering 7-footer couldn’t block the shot. Pondexter was on a fast break and she attempted to do a jump shot over Dydek. With her tall height, Dydek blocked the attempt with seemingly little effort.

Pondexter also states that it was that moment when the friendship started between the two players.

Final Words

Margo Dydek was 37 when she passed away because of a heart attack. She left this world boasting many achievements. However, the passing still left pain and sadness in the hearts of people close to her. Although it was early for Dydek to pass away, many basketball enthusiasts and professionals will always remember her as one of the tallest WNBA players with the biggest heart.

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