Heyward Dotson: The stalwart of Columbian Basketball Dies at 71

Author: Sonali


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Heyward Dotson at the age of 71 died of liver failure in the Bronx.

He was the one who led Columbia basketball to glory. He played the key role in Lions winning the only Ivy League title, in 1968. Later he studied at the Rhodes Scholar studying at the University of Oxford. 

His pragmatism and the fine sense of leading a disciplined tea made him different from the crowd. In an interview posted on the Lions’ Twitter account, Dotson said, “When we went into big games, teams were not ready for how hard we played. They called us the little Knickerbockers.” His teammates often praised him for his determination and his art of rising in the moment of need and playing the best game against the best teams. 

Personal Life

Heyward Harrell Dotson was born to David and Ruth (Harrell) Dotson on the 12th of July 1948. He spent his childhood on Staten Island with his parents. He went on to study in one of the elite public High Schools of Manhattan. Later on, he went on a scholarship program at Columbia University. In 2018, he was inducted into the prestigious Hall of fame of the University. He always considered himself a scholar and basketball had always been a means of getting out of Staten Island. 

His wife, Mildred Dotson died in 1998. He is survived by his daughter, mother, two brothers (David and Donald), two sisters (Dorothy Benson and Eva Cooper), and three grandchildren. 

Basketball Career

The Lions won 16 in a row after they started the season with 4-3 records. Later on, they lost the final regular-season game to Princeton. And, in three days later Lions routed Princeton with their 92-74 Ivy League championship win. Heyward Dotson scored 19. With this Columbia moved further to N.C.A.A. tournament. However, the team got eliminated in the second round of the game. He had once said in an interview that, “an unstoppable point guard who could diagnose on-court situations as well as anyone.” In the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons, his average was a little more than 18. 

He went on to study European history, in 1970, after completing his graduation. He enrolled in the Rhodes Scholarship at Worcester College, Oxford. This was a similar path that the Princeton star, Bill Bradley chose for himself who went on to study in 1965 before playing for the Knicks. For a time, Dotson played professional games in Europe, but he could not make it to the N.B.A. In 1970, he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns and was traded to the knicks. But, this could not last long and they soon got him out of the team. 

Graduating from Columbia Law School 

After he failed to build an NBA career, Dotson went on to pursue graduate studies from Columbia Law School. He then worked for the Shea & Gould law firm. He also held two important Government positions including the one with the New York City Comptroller’s Office and another with the New York State assemblyman Keith Wright. In 2001, he also ran for the New York City Council. Later on, he fit himself up in a number of jobs. 


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