Quintin Dailey, who was widely regarded as one of the best high school basketball players in the history of Baltimore, died Monday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 49.
The Clark County Coroner's Office told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Dailey died from hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Dailey, a college star at the University of San Francisco who spent 10 rocky years in the NBA, had been working as a supervisor at the Parkdale Community Center in Las Vegas, helping at-risk kids.
News of his passing saddened those who knew him and remembered him from his teenage years in Baltimore, where he set the all-time Maryland state scoring record while playing at Cardinal Gibbons from 1977 to 1979. He was so quick and so gifted with a basketball, he still ranks third on the all-time scoring list behind Rodney Monroe and Sean Mosley.
"We kind of grew up in the same neighborhood, playing on the playground together, and that guy was one hell of a player," said Pat Clatchey, who is now the coach at Mount St. Joseph. "He's one of the best I've ever seen. He really was unbelievable. It's just really sad to hear."
Dailey did not have an idyllic upbringing in Baltimore, and his legacy as a player was tarnished a bit by some of the personal problems he had in college and in the NBA. But later in life, when he was clean and sober, he took tremendous pride in his job working with kids, according to friends.
"He was a tremendous basketball player, but he was an outstanding person," said city athletic director Bob Wade, who coached against Dailey when he was at Edmondson and became friends with him later. "He had a lot of tragedy early in his life, but Cardinal Gibbons played a major part in who he became as a person."
When Dailey was 14 years old, his parents died within a month of each other, which led to his being raised by an aunt in West Baltimore. According to those who knew him, he was able to channel the hurt from losing his parents onto the basketball court, where he became nearly impossible to guard.
"We tried everything against him, a box-and-one, a triangle, whatever," said Jerry Savage, a former head coach at Loyola High. "He would still find ways to score. He could score in the open floor, in the half-court set. He was just a tremendous player."
Dailey's success continued at San Francisco, where he became one of the nation's top scorers as a sophomore, averaging 25.2 points a game in 1982. But he also had a series of problems that eventually led to the Dons' temporarily suspending their program. Dailey was accused of sexual assault as a junior and eventually pleaded guilty to attempted assault and received three years' probation.
Despite the accusation, he was drafted seventh by the Chicago Bulls and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1983. In 1984, playing alongside rookie Michael Jordan, Dailey averaged 18.2 points for the Bulls. He was not, however, received warmly by the city of Chicago. The National Organization for Women protested his presence on the team and picketed Chicago Stadium, and fans booed him every time he touched the ball. Jordan called what happened to Dailey a "professional tragedy."
"A lot of people said he had problems with me, but I think we competed well against each other every day," Jordan said in 1991. "He was a good guy to be around. He taught me a lot. The tricks of basketball."
Dailey lasted four seasons in Chicago, but he began to have drug problems (he was hospitalized for cocaine use in 1985) and left the Bulls in 1986. He twice violated the NBA's drug policy and played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Seattle SuperSonics and Los Angeles Lakers before he ran out of chances.He made his way to Las Vegas after retirement, and in 1996, he was hired by the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He eventually became a recreation and cultural program supervisor, a position he kept until his death.
Dailey's son, Quintin Jr., plays basketball at Eastern Michigan. He also has a daughter, Quinci.
Wade said he'll always remember Dailey as a strong person who overcame a lot and helped put Baltimore high school basketball on the map.
"Skip Wise gets a lot of credit, but Dailey did a really good job bringing additional attention to the city," Wade said. "The thing I'll always remember is how hard he played. Every minute, he gave his all. I'll just remember his outstanding leadership ability. He was a great leader, and his teammates rallied around him."