Dale Brown was born September 6, 1968. Brown began his collegiate career at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in 1989. During his two seasons he helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back Region 23 titles, a Top 20 ranking, and an overall record of 57-16. He averaged 18.5 points per game (89-90) and 20 points per game (90-91). His post-season accolades included First Team honors on the Junior College All-American squad, First Team All-State, and All-Region 23. Brown also finished fourth in voting for the National Junior College Player of the Year.
Brown continued his collegiate career at the University of Kentucky under then coach Rick Pitino. Brown is most widely known for being a member of the 1992 Wildcats team that lost to Duke in the NCAA Eastern Regional Final. Sports Illustrated deemed it the greatest college basketball game of all time. ESPN included it as number 17 in their Top 100 sport moments of the past 25 years and USA Today list it as the greatest NCAA tournament game of all time. Brown helped lead his team to the Final Four, which was held in New Orleans in 1993. Brown was named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Newcomer of the Year in 1992. In 1993, he became a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
He and his Wildcats teammates Jamal Mashburn and Tony Delk would spend late nights discussing what they would do when they made it to the NBA. Brown planned to buy his mother a house. He also promised he would come back to Lexington and take care of his boys. After he finished his two years at Kentucky — his first two years of college were spent at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College — Brown, still more than 30 hours shy of his degree, signed a free-agent contract with the Sacramento Kings.
He was hoping to be drafted, but his $150,000 contract with the Kings for the season would suffice. It was enough to move his mother out of Mississippi and bring her to Sacramento. “We were poor,” Brown said. “I wanted to better my mom’s life because I never was a materialistic kind of guy. I just wanted to do it for my mother and my family.”
Brown never got that chance. The day he signed with the Kings, his mother died in a traffic accident. The happiest day of his life turned into the worst day of his life. Making matters worse, Brown said the Kings’ front-office executives didn’t want the rookie guard to leave training camp to be with his family at the funeral.
Brown didn’t heed the front office’s advice. He packed his bags and headed home. The Kings made a decision as well. They waived Brown. They did, however, pay him his entire salary. “When my mom was gone, it was like my whole world came to an end,” he said. “It was so hard that I needed people talking to me constantly just to keep me going.”
Eventually, Brown pulled himself together. He went overseas and played four seasons. But it wasn’t the same.
By 1997 his playing days had ended and so had the paychecks. He spent much of the next few years wallowing around Lexington. With his bills mounting, Brown took on one menial job after another. When he did see old pals or Kentucky basketball fans, he tried to hide, hoping to take refuge from the embarrassing stares and snickering. “They were looking at me like, ‘You played for the University of Kentucky and now you are doing a construction job. You are not supposed to be here.’
“I just didn’t want to live no more.”
Rick Pitino, Brown’s coach at Kentucky, and Tubby Smith, who was Kentucky’s head coach from 1997 to 2007, got wind of Brown’s struggles. They talked the former standout player into re-enrolling in school through a scholarship program for former players. Two years later, at age 34, Brown had his degree. Slowly he started to piece his life together.
“Rick Pitino and Tubby, those guys are great guys, they talked to me and talked some sense into my head,” Brown said. “They got me to where I wanted to go back to school and get my life together.”
He got his first coaching gig in 2004 as associate head coach for the Southern Crescent Lightning, which won the 2004 World Basketball Association championship. In 2005, he became head coach of another WBA team, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Bandits, and led the team to an 18-11 record. In 2006, he became the interim coach at Pikeville (Ky.) College. Next he was an assistant at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he was selected to the Hall of Fame in September 2006. Then he spent a year at Moss Point (Miss.) High School, where he guided the team to a district championship, a trip to the state semifinals and the best basketball record in the school’s history (32-6).
On July 15, 2008, Dillard University’s Interim Athletic Director, Kiki Baker Barnes announced the hiring of Dale Brown as Dillard’s new head men’s basketball coach. “Dale Brown is no
stranger to college basketball or the Gulf Coast region,” said Barnes. “Brown brings a wealth of contacts and experiences that will help bring our program back to national prominence.”
On July 5, 2011, Brown was named the new head coach of Clark Atlantic University men’s basketball team. Clark Atlantic is a private, historically black university in Atlanta, Georgia and a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division II.