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Published: Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 9:37 a.m.

Marvin Webster, 56, basketball's Human Eraser, dies

Marvin Webster, 56, a shot-blocking center known as the Human Eraser who took the Seattle SuperSonics to the 1978 NBA finals, was found dead Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., the New York Times reports.
Webster's death was confirmed by a family spokesman, W. Charles Bennett of Albuquerque. Webster's body was found at a hotel, Tulsa police said, but they were not treating the death as suspicious. Webster had a history of hepatitis. The state medical examiner's office was performing an autopsy.
Webster, a 7-foot-1-inch center, gained his nickname when he averaged eight blocked shots a game while taking Morgan State University of Baltimore, his hometown, to the 1974 NCAA Division II championship as a junior. He averaged 21 points and 22.4 rebounds a game and was named Division II player of the year.
Webster made his professional debut in 1975 with the Denver Nuggets of the American Basketball Association before the Nuggets joined the NBA in the two leagues' merger the following year. After two seasons in Denver, Webster joined the Sonics and turned in what would be his best pro season, averaging 14 points and 12.6 rebounds as Seattle went to the seventh game of the 1978 championship final before losing to the Washington Bullets.
Webster signed a five-year contract with the New York Knicks following that season. He proved effective at times but was plagued by hepatitis, going back to his college years, as well as tendinitis in his right knee.
He missed all of the 1984-85 season and the beginning of the next season because of hepatitis before announcing his retirement in December 1985.
Webster tried for a comeback. He played in the Continental Basketball Association, then appeared briefly with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1986-87. He averaged 7 points and 6.8 rebounds for 10 pro seasons.
Webster 's son, Marvin Jr., at 6 feet 11 inches, was an outstanding basketball prospect, raised by his maternal grandparents in Greensboro, N.C., after Webster and his wife, Mederia, were divorced.
The son was about to become the starting center for Temple University in his first season with the team, as a sophomore, when he died of cardiomyopathy in August 1997, six weeks short of his 19th birthday.
Story tags » NBA

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