A terribly short life: how the tallest basketball player in the world, Malgazata Didek, died

The 218 cm tall Pole set many records, but died at the age of 37 along with her unborn child.

“Dilda” – that’s how Malgazhata Didek was called by her classmates as a child. The girl, whose height was always not just taller, but much taller than average, attracted a lot of attention. It was mainly of a negative nature. Classmates made fun of the future basketball star.

Malgozhata practically had no opportunity to reach the standard 170 cm and stop there. She was born in a Polish family, where the height of the father was 202 cm, the height of the mother was 191 cm, the older sister Katarzyna was 201 cm, and the younger one was 198 cm. And Malgazhata, with her 218 cm, looked slightly taller than normal against their background , but not against the background of other people and children.

Basketball was the perfect solution for all three girls. In training, Malgazhata could use her unique physical data to the fullest, and over time, her success in basketball earned her the respect of her classmates.

Malgazhata Didek (#12).

Photo by Getty Images

Basketball is a family affair

In the Didek family, all three daughters became basketball players. The eldest, Katarzyna, played in the American student league, after which she won five championship titles in Poland with the “Arka” team, and also took part in the Sydney Olympics. The younger sister, Marta, played almost her entire career in Spain.

Malgazhata achieved the greatest success in basketball. She used to play while studying at school. After that, she entered the University of Physical Culture and Sports, at the same time she played for the club “Olympia” from the age of 18. And she also managed to distinguish herself with bronze medals as part of the country’s youth national team at the European and World Championships.

By the age of 24, the Polish basketball player was already the brightest star in Europe. She managed to play in France, become a two-time champion of Spain with “Getafe”, attend the final of the Euroleague. It became clear that Didek’s potential is tight in Europe and it’s time to pay attention to the women’s NBA. In the 1998 draft, Didek chose the “Utah Stars” and went to punish America. She spent four years in the team. During this time, she was recognized as the best in block shots four times. By the end of her career, she will double the number of these titles and will become completely unattainable for all female pursuers – 877 blocked shots.

After “Uta” in the career of Malgazhata there were such teams as San Antonio Silver Stars, Connecticut Sun, and Los Angeles Sparks. Due to her excellent play, Didek received two invitations to the WNBA All-Star Game.

On both sides of the ocean

Many female basketball players play both in America and in Europe. Seasons run at different times and many choose to perform on both sides of the ocean. That’s what Malgazhata did. Besides the fact that she played for the national team, with which she took the gold of the European Championship in 1999, she was also a center in the Polish club “Gdynia”, where she won seven titles of the country’s champion in seven years, distinguished herself by playing in Yekaterinburg.

From 2005 to 2006, she played for UMMC and became the vice-champion of Russia. After spending a year in our country, she moved to Spain. With the Ross Casares club, she won silver medals in the Euroleague and the national championship.

Malgazhata Didek.  Photo by Getty Images

Malgazhata Didek.

Photo by Getty Images

In 2008, at the age of 34, Malgazhata ended her sports career and moved with her husband (Englishman David Twigg, whom she married back in the mid-1990s) to Australia to build a family nest here.

On the Green Continent, Didek began to coach the local basketball team “Northside Wizards”, and also took on the role of a mother for the first time. In the same year, the family had a son, David, and two years later, his brother Alex. A perfect sports career from a “dildo” that no one wanted to be friends with to a record holder, a perfect family life. What more could you want?

In 2011, the husband and wife shared with the world another good news – soon the third child will appear in the family.

Cardiac arrest

While all the fans of the athlete rejoiced at the quick addition to the family of the famous basketball player, media headlines were torn by the news that Malgazhata Didek lost consciousness at home and was hospitalized with cardiac arrest.

Resuscitation procedures did not bring any success, so doctors put the basketball player in a medically induced coma. After the CT scan, the prognosis for recovery was very positive. Malgazhata was admitted to the hospital on May 19. She didn’t wake up the next day, or two, or even a week. And on May 27, doctors confirmed the athlete’s death from a heart attack. She was only 37 years old. An unborn child died with her.

Everything happened so quickly that it seemed like the whole thing was just an accident or coincidence. But in fact, the basketball player had heart problems since childhood. Malgazhata suffered from arrhythmia. Being tall is not always a unique gift.

Didek is gone, but the memory of the outstanding athlete remains. In 2012, the Malgozhata Didek International Youth Memorial was held in Valamina. And in 2019, she was posthumously included in the FIBA ​​Hall of Fame. Although Malgazhata’s life was unfairly short, she managed to leave a bright mark in basketball in such a short period of time.

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