Bruce Seals, who played five years of pro basketball between the ABA and NBA, then spent three decades influencing the lives of countless youth at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester, died Tuesday. He was 67.
Mr. Seals most recently lived in Malden.
Born June 18, 1953, in New Orleans, he was a decorated high school player recruited by Division 1 schools, but opted to stay close to home and enrolled at Xavier University of Louisiana of the NAIA. Mr. Seals averaged a double-double in both seasons there — his 13 rebounds per game is among six school records he still holds — before signing with the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association in 1973.
A free agent after two seasons, Seattle drafted him in the second round of the 1975 NBA Draft and Mr. Seals played three years with the SuperSonics, the first two coached by Celtics legend Bill Russell. Before Seattle’s title-winning 1978-79 campaign, however, Mr. Seals held out — he told the Globe in 1995 that “it was a low time in my life,” citing the recent death of his mother — and landed in Europe, spending three more seasons in Italy before a lingering foot injury ended his playing career.
In five US professional seasons, Mr. Seals averaged 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 348 regular-season games. He was inducted to the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
Mr. Seals came to Boston in 1990 when his wife, the former Shirley Ann Gallien, took a job in Waltham. Seeing an opening for an athletic director at the since-renamed Marr Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester, he applied and got the job, remaining there for the rest of his life.
“Everybody wants to make a difference. I think we make a difference in kids’ lives,” Mr. Seals told the Globe in 2008. “Kids need parameters. We give them that. And most of them blossom in that situation.”
Additionally, Mr. Seals was an assistant coach with the Emerson College men’s basketball team for 17 years (1994–2011), then spent seven years in the same role at Emmanuel. His daughter, Denitra Rene Seals, was Emmanuel’s women’s volleyball head coach for 13 years before stepping down in June.
Mrs. Seals, a controller for multiple Boston institutions and former president of the Behind the Bench charitable foundation of NBA wives, passed away in 2005. In addition to their daughter, Mr. Seals leaves two sisters, a brother, and a son, Bruce Jr., who was a three-time Globe All-Scholastic and scored 2,001 points between Natick and Ashland High from 1994–98.
“Rest in Power to the legend Bruce Seals,” state Representative Liz Miranda, whose district includes parts of Roxbury and Dorchester, tweeted out Tuesday night. “Many young people over decades at the Dorchester Boys & Girls Club have been touched by your love, support & talent. Thank you for all you did for generations of Dot kids.”