Sonny Dove – Mashpee Wampanoag

Published on January 5, 2013 by Amy

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Sonny Dove
Sonny Dove


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Lloyd “Sonny” Dove (August 16, 1945–February 14, 1983) was an American professional basketball player, who was of Native American Mashpee Wampanoag descent. As a star at St. John’s University in New York, in his last season of 1967, he received the Haggerty Award. That year he was part of the United States basketball team that won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg.

His record has continued to make him one of the top players ever at St. John’s, and in 2005 Dove was among the first ten men selected for “Basketball Legacy Honors” at the university. In 2011 Dove was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

Early life and education

Lloyd Dove, Jr. was born in Brooklyn, New York, New York, and nicknamed “Sonny”. His father was Lloyd Dove. The younger Dove was of maternal Mashpee Wampanoag descent. His mother Adeline B. Dove (1921–2010) was the sister of Earl Mills, Sr. (Flying Eagle), the hereditary sachem since 1956 of the Mashpee Wampanoag. His siblings are Larry Dove of Mashpee and Gladys Dove Barnes of Queens, N.Y. By Wampanoag matrilineal tradition, the children belong to the mother’s clan.

After his parents divorced, in 1951 Adeline Dove married Donald Hicks, Sr. of Mashpee, Massachusetts, and returned to the town where she had grown up. His half-siblings are Donnella Hicks Pocknett, Errol Hicks, Donald Hicks, Jr., and Gary Hicks, all of Mashpee.

Dove graduated from St. Francis Preparatory School in Brooklyn, where his skill at basketball was noted. He was recruited for St. John’s University by Lou Carnesecca, the assistant basketball coach at the time.

College career

Dove attended St. John’s University, where he was a forward and played for three seasons, starting under the legendary coach Joe Lapchick, nicknamed the “Big Indian” (the team was called the Redmen). At St. John’s, Dove as of 1983 was the fifth-highest scorer and second-ranked rebounder in its basketball history. In his last season of 1966-67, before being recruited by a professional team, Dove was captain of a team with a 23-5 record.

As of 2008, when Dove was selected posthumously for the “All-Century Team,” of St. John’s, he was one of only two players in the university basketball program’s history with more than 1,000 career points (he ranked 10th with 1,576 points) and more than 1,000 career rebounds (he ranked 2nd with 1,036).


Dove was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the fourth pick of the 1967 NBA Draft. He played two years with the Pistons before joining the New York Nets of the ABA, with whom he remained until 1972. In his NBA/ABA career, Dove averaged 11.1 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game. His pro career ended when Dove shattered his leg in a bicycle accident.

After his pro career, Dove returned to St. John’s University and completed his degree. He went into radio sports broadcasting, often sharing comments on basketball games with other former pro players. In the 1980s he was partnered with Dave Halberstam in commenting on St. John’s University basketball games.

He was also a taxi driver. Dove died at age 37 from injuries in an accident when the taxi he was driving skidded from a partially open bridge into the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn in February 1983. A memorial Mass was held at St. Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church, St. Albans, Queens.

Marriage and family

He married Patricia. At the time of his death, Dove and his wife were separated. Dove had three children: Leslie, Zaynid, and Kimberly.

Legacy and honors

  • 1967, Haggerty Award
  • 1967, Consensus NCAA All-American Second Team
  • 1967 gold medal for basketball team, Pan American Games, Winnipeg
  • 2005, named among the first 10 men selected for “Basketball Legacy Honors” at St. John’s University
  • 2008, named to St. John’s University “All-Century Team”
  • 2011, inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Source: wikipedia Unabridged
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