At age 37 following a heart attack that left her in a medically induced coma for a week, Margo Dydek, who was the No. 1 overall pick by the Utah Starzz in the 1998 WNBA draft. Born in Poland, Dydek (above) was once believed to be, at 7'2", the tallest female professional basketball player in the world. For her career she averaged 10 points and 6.6 rebounds with four teams, but Dydek's legacy was her defense: She led the WNBA in blocked shots in nine of her 11 seasons, finished with a record 877 blocks in 323 games and twice earned all-defensive second team honors before retiring in 2008. Dydek had been coaching the Northside Wizards, a youth development team in Australia's Queensland Basketball League, and was in the early stages of pregnancy with her third child when she collapsed at her home in Brisbane on May 19.
By Northwestern for the sixth time in seven seasons, the women's lacrosse national championship, which the Wildcats secured with an 8--7 victory in Stony Brook, N.Y., on Sunday over top-seeded Maryland, the same team they lost to in the finals a year ago. After falling behind 4--1, Northwestern clung to life with defense, shutting down the nation's No. 4 scoring offense, including Terps senior Sarah Mollison, who was held scoreless for the first time in 67 games. Wildcats junior Shannon Smith, the tournament's MVP, put the finishing touch on the victory with the last of her four goals, a game-winner with 4:36 remaining. Sunday's win wrapped up a week of drama for the No. 2--seeded Wildcats, who had edged North Carolina 11--10 two days earlier to reach the title game.
In the recovery effort following the United States' deadliest tornado on record, which tore through Joplin, Mo., on May 22, members of the University of Missouri's athletics program. Last week men's basketball coach Frank Haith and seven other Tigers staffers traveled to the town of 47,000 and handed out Truman the Tiger mascot dolls to displaced children. And back in Columbia, the baseball and softball teams used their runs to their respective College World Series to promote awareness: During the Big 12 tournament the baseball team hung in its dugout a Tigers jersey that had been found in the Joplin rubble; and the softball team—whose starting third baseman, Nicole Hudson, hails from near Joplin—displayed in the outfield a sign reading ONE STATE. ONE SPIRIT. ONE MIZZOU. The school has since started selling T-shirts with that slogan and has raised more than $100,000 for United Way. To contribute to the effort, visit uwheartmo.org.
At age 64 of complications from skin cancer, Paul Splittorff, the winningest pitcher in Royals history and a popular broadcast analyst in Kansas City. The lanky 6'3" lefthander became K.C.'s first 20-game winner in his fourth season, in 1973, and over the next 11 seasons went on to set club records, all still standing, for wins (166), starts (392) and innings pitched (2,554 2/3). In '80, Splittorff (above) helped guide the Royals to their first World Series appearance, allowing one run in 51/3 innings in Game 3 of the ALCS to complete a sweep of the Yankees. (He pitched in just one game, a loss, in the World Series, which the Phillies took four games to two.) After retiring in '84, Splittorff remained involved with the Royals and with Big 12 basketball as a broadcaster for 24 years, working until the final weeks of his life and not publicly disclosing his illness until 10 days before his death.
By hedge-fund manager David Einhorn, a minority ownership stake in the New York Mets, the terms of which could eventually end Fred Wilpon's 31-year run as the team's principal owner. The sale arose last week from the financial woes of both Wilpon, who is facing a $1 billion lawsuit over his connections to Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, and of the Mets, who potentially face $70 million in losses this season while still owing $52 million in loans to Major League Baseball (SI, May 30). Under the current terms of Einhorn's purchase agreement, the president of Greenlight Capital will receive 30% ownership of the team for $200 million with the option to increase his stake to a team-controlling 60% in three years if Wilpon doesn't repay the initial investment. Should Wilpon repay, Einhorn would retain his original ownership shares.