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Beloved Baltimore youth rec basketball coach Kevin Dotson dies of the coronavirus

Cecil Kirk rec basketball coach Kevin Dotson, holding his nephew Amias Dotson, died of complications due to COVID-19.
Cecil Kirk rec basketball coach Kevin Dotson, holding his nephew Amias Dotson, died of complications due to COVID-19.

Cecil Kirk recreation basketball coach Kevin Dotson, a fixture on the Baltimore City basketball scene, died Sunday due to complications caused by the coronavirus. He was 44.

Dotson’s father, Calvin Dotson Jr., a legendary coach at Cecil Kirk for more than 30 years, said his son dealt with underlying conditions, including asthma and high blood pressure.

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After spending time coaching at Shutdown Academy, Kevin Dotson, who played for and graduated from Randallstown High School, spent the past four years coaching at Cecil Kirk, where he spent many of his childhood days. He first tagged along with his father as a toddler and then played and was part of championship teams in the program.

Cecil Kirk, an East Baltimore rec center under longtime director Anthony Lewis, has been a basketball pipeline for generations, producing a number of standout players who had successful high school, college and professional careers, including NBA players such as Rudy Gay, Juan Dixon, Reggie Lewis and David Wingate.

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Kevin Dotson developed a thirst for basketball and shared it with everybody that was around him.

“Kevin had a good heart and he loved basketball, had a passion about it,” said his father. "One year, I had him coaching with me and he would always say, ‘Daddy, do this!' He had a great mind for basketball and never forgot anything. He was just a genuinely nice person and he worked hard at his craft. He’d text me, ‘Daddy, I’m working hard in the box — we’re getting it done. I’d say ‘All right, son.’ ”

Dotson’s younger brother, Calvin III, 37, who is an assistant basketball coach at Gilman, said his brother was a mentor who proved an ideal role model. There were car rides to and from high school by his brother, endless games of 1-on-1 wherever the two could find lighted outdoor courts and an example that was provided that began with hard work.

“Kevin always supported me in anything I wanted to do — he just wanted me to work hard,” Calvin Dotson III said. “He had an impact on so many people for so many years, even before he started coaching he had always been recognized a staple in the basketball community.”

Dotson III recalls his brother’s shining moment while playing at Randallstown when he excelled against Baltimore County rival Woodlawn.

“He hit three or four [3-point shots] and he’s like high-stepping down the court and pointing at the crowd. It was the funniest thing,” he said. “That’s probably the best memory for anybody that knows him. All his friends know this — that was his moment.”

When Lake Clifton and Miami standout Kevin Norris first played organized basketball when he was 8 years old, Kevin Dotson was by his side as a teammate. Their friendship grew with their shared passion for coaching.

“You have a lot of selfish people in this world and Kevin was really selfless,” said Mr. Norris, who is an assistant men’s basketball coach at University of Central Florida. “He grew up watching his dad and coach Anthony Lewis and you know the old saying ‘The apple don’t fall too far from the tree.’ He got it from his dad. When he stopped playing the game, he gave all his time to the kids and he went above and beyond for them. From taking them to school, to picking them up to take them to practice and after practice taking them home. You name it, he was doing it.”

Cecil Kirk rec basketball coach Kevin Dotson, center, died from complications due to COVID-19.
Cecil Kirk rec basketball coach Kevin Dotson, center, died from complications due to COVID-19.

Kevin Dotson was a regular in Baltimore City high school gyms when big games were played — always there early to watch the junior varsity games ahead of the varsity. Many players on the Lake Clifton team come through the Cecil Kirk program.

Quinton Monroe, who started on the Lakers junior varsity team as a freshman this past season, said Kevin Dotson immediately became more than just a coach to him back in seventh grade.

“He was a good person, a good coach,” the player said. “He would pick me up to take me to watch basketball — was more than just a basketball coach. He talked to me about other stuff, asking me how things were going and to keep the stuff up in school and things like that, so it was more than basketball. It’s going to be tough.”

Kevin Dotson is survived by his father, his brother and an extended family. His mother, Sandy, died April 25, 2014, shortly before he returned to Cecil Kirk to coach. His brother said his return to Cecil Kirk was vital and a blessing while he grieved his loss.

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A memorial service will be planned at a later date after social-distancing restrictions have been lifted.

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