Sports anchor Daryl Hawks, 38, of WMAQ-TV NBC5, was found unresponsive at an Atlanta hotel by staff Thursday morning after he failed to answer a wake-up call. Hawks was there to cover Game 6 of the Bulls series against the Hawks. He was taken to Emory University Hospital Midtown, where he was pronounced dead, police said. Authorities said foul play is not suspected.
Hawks' friends and colleagues are stunned.
"He ate right. He worked out. It's really hard to believe," said Peggy Kusinskim, WMAQ-TV sports reporter. "He loved sports, he loved his job, he loved what he did. But more than anything he loved his family."
"He, more than probably anybody I know, lived every day like it was his last. He loved passionately, he worked passionately, he was crazy about his kids, madly in love with his wife who was his soulmate," said Paula Faris, WMAQ-TV sports reporter/anchor.
Hawks co-hosted the NBC5's "Sports Sunday" show with Faris for almost three years. She and other colleagues remember Hawks as someone who loved his job. He followed sports and was also a good athlete, a man's man who was most passionate about his family. Hawks was married with three children.
For many, longtime NBC employees Hawks' sudden death is reminiscent of the 2002 death of Darrian Chapman, who was also married with children. Both men grew up in Buffalo, New York.
"I got the call nine years ago when we lost Darrian. Not again," said Kusinksi with tears in her eyes.
Hawks was also known for his charity efforts. George Bliss remembers how he came out two years ago for a fundraiser for the 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame.
"He took warm-ups, took practice, stayed afterwards and we had a great time with him. He was really great," said Bliss.
The former Marine was a three-time Emmy winner. Before joining WMAQ in 2008, he worked at television stations in the California Bay Area; Raleigh, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Palm Springs, Calif.
Hawks' death leaves a huge void for members of the NBC5 family
"I'm still expecting to look up and see him. It doesn't seem real," said Faris.
An autopsy, which should help determine the cause of death, is scheduled for Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.