clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ROY MARBLE, 1966-2015

New, 38 comments

A lousy week gets worse as Iowa basketball legend Roy Marble succumbs to cancer.

Scott Dochtermann/YouTube

Roy Marble, the all-time leading scorer in Iowa basketball, has died of brain cancer, according to assistant coach Kirk Speraw and media reports. Marble was just 48 years old.

Marble's legacy is one of the most remarkable in program history. His 2,116 career points are best among men or women, he still leads the program in career two-pointers and free throws made, and though he never made first-team All-Big Ten, he was second-team twice and third-team another year, in one of the finest stretches in conference history. In 1987, he led the team to its last No. 1 ranking, and that squad is still the last in Hawkeye history to reach the Elite Eight.

Then, of course, there is the legacy of one of Marble's five sons, Devyn. The younger Marble was himself one of the best players in Hawkeye history, finishing fifth in career points and sixth in career assists while earning first-team All-Big Ten status in 2014 and getting drafted by the Orlando Magic.

Together, Roy and Devyn are the first father-son combination to each score 1,000 career points in Big Ten history, and they each cruised to that mark before their senior seasons began. Their combined total of 3,810 points is one of the best in NCAA history; even Bill and Luke Walton couldn't crack 3,000 together.

Though Marble wasn't the NBA prospect that teammates B.J. Armstrong, Kevin Gamble and Brad Lohaus turned out to be, he was the turbo boost on that team, the one who added layers of versatility by himself. Marble was a classic swingman, and he could knock down jumpers, get to the rim, get to the line and grab rebounds whenever needed. He made those late-'80s Hawkeyes a whole lot of fun.

Sadly, Marble's death doesn't come at a complete surprise, as he had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2014. Though Marble was able to attend a special jersey ceremony in his honor six months ago, Iowa State guard Monte Morris (whose family is incredibly close with the Marbles) tweeted out a picture a couple weeks ago that showed Marble wheelchair-bound and looking like he'd seen better days.

It's a shame. 48 is too young. Marble's children were just coming into the age where they were realizing their futures, including Devyn making seven starts as a rookie. To quote Joe Biden quoting his father, "you know you're a success as a parent when you turn to your child, and realize they turned out better than you." That Marble wasn't able to see all five of his children into adulthood and actualization seems like a cosmic robbery.

Marble also didn't live to see his jersey number retired by Iowa. "I got everything I needed," Marble said at the time, but fans disagreed (as did BHGP) and rightfully so, especially if the ailing Marble was already showing up to hold up a framed jersey at center court to begin with. Marble's #23 has been in heavy rotation since his Iowa career ended, including on the likes of Ricky Davis, Duez Henderson and Doug Thomas, but one must imagine that current user Okey Ukah would have been more than fine ceding his number to history in the name of the greatest scorer Iowa City has ever seen.

Alas, history claims Marble instead, and today he and his family remain in our thoughts. Rest easy.