Minnesota vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale never worried about swingman Malik Sealy. Sealy had interests beyond basketball. He dabbled in acting and clothing design. He loved to talk politics. He was armed with a management degree from St. John's. "He was such a multidimensional guy," McHale says. "You could have a conversation with him about anything. And he always had a book with him. The last one I saw him reading was Tuesdays with Morrie. I don't think you'll find too many guys in the NBA reading that."
Early last Saturday morning McHale was awakened by a frantic phone call from coach Flip Saunders informing him of the unthinkable: Sealy had been killed in a head-on collision when a pickup truck traveling the wrong way on a divided highway rammed into him.
After eight seasons with four NBA teams Sealy had found a niche in Minnesota. He was inserted into the starting lineup on Dec. 22 when the Timberwolves had a 9-13 record and the team went 41-19 thereafter. Known as a defensive player who did the little things, Sealy also emerged this season as a reliable perimeter shooter, averaging 11.3 points and shooting a career-high 47.6% from the field. "He had become one of the key guys on our team," McHale says of Sealy, who was set to sign a long-term contract with the T-Wolves worth close to $4 million a season, after becoming a free agent on July 1.
Sealy's stunned teammates have rallied around his wife, Lisa, and their two-year-old son, Malik Remington Sealy, the little boy they call Remi. Veteran Sam Mitchell accompanied the police to Sealy's home so Lisa would not have to hear the horrific news from a stranger.
Lisa had spent last Friday evening boxing up the family's things, preparing to return to New York City, where Malik grew up. Instead, she and young Remi will linger in Minnesota, their boxes packed, their destination unknown, waiting to bury a husband and father who had every right to believe his whole life was in front of him.