Margo Dydek: A personality to match her 7-foot-2 height

Sun coach Mike Thibault instructs Margo Dydek during a practice drill in 2005. The 7-foot-2 Dydek, 37, died on Friday in Brisbane, Australia.
Sun coach Mike Thibault instructs Margo Dydek during a practice drill in 2005. The 7-foot-2 Dydek, 37, died on Friday in Brisbane, Australia.

A pipe burst around midnight in Lindsay Whalen's apartment while she was playing in Russia several years ago.

Whalen needed a repairman. She needed someone who could speak Russian. She needed a friend.

Whalen needed Margo Dydek.

"She was the only person I knew (in Russia) whose number I had," Whalen said Friday after the passing of her former Connecticut Sun teammate.

"I called her at midnight and she came right over to help me figure out how to get a repairman and to get the leak stopped. She spoke with my Russian neighbor. He had water in his apartment, and she calmed the whole situation down."

There was an outpouring of grief and reflection about Dydek following her death early Friday morning. She suffered a heart attack at her home in Brisbane, Australia, on May 19 and was placed in a medically induced coma.

Dydek, 37, was pregnant with her third child. She is survived by husband David Twigg and young sons David and Alexander.

"I just find this to be one of my saddest days in a long time," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "It's hard to come to grips with this because she was this young, vibrant mom who loved being a mother.

"That she's not going to be there for her two boys, her husband ... I know there are stories like this every day around the world, but this one, it hits home. And I've talked to a lot of former players who feel the same way."

Dydek played 10 seasons in the WNBA, three with Connecticut. The franchise had its most successful run with the 7-foot-2 Polish center in the middle. The general public knew Dydek for her larger-than-life height. Those who knew Dydek said her personality and warmth matched her size.

"Margo was an awesome person," Sun forward Asjha Jones said. "I think anybody who met her knew how awesome she was. She went out of her way to help everybody. We miss that.

"She speaks like seven different languages and when I was overseas, she took me under her wing. When I played in Siberia and I played against her - she was in Ekat (Ekaterinburg), she would just make sure I was OK. She took me to her house, fed me, just made sure I was feeling OK, feeling secure. She just had that big heart and she just loved everybody and it showed every day."

Thibault said: "My wife (Nanci) and I have a memory of one of the best trips we took in recent years. It was one of my scouting trips to Spain, and Margo was playing (in Valencia).

"We went out after a game, about a dozen of us, and she was the hostess of the whole thing. It was just a really good, good evening. Everyone was laughing. There were other players there, but she was the life of the party. She and Nanci must have talked together while drinking sangria for an hour-and-a-half."

Dydek was selected No. 1 by the now-defunct Utah Starrz in 1998. The Sun acquired her in April 2005 from the San Antonio Silver Stars for Katie Feenstra's draft rights and a 2006 first-round pick.

Dydek is the WNBA's all-time leader in blocks (877). To put that in perspective, Seattle Storm post Lauren Jackson is third all-time with 568 in 10 seasons.

n.griffen@theday.com

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