Hawks, 38, worked at NBC's KNTV in San Jose from April 2005 until April 2008, when he left to become a sports anchor at NBC's WMAQ in Chicago. He was on assignment for WMAQ in Atlanta to cover Thursday night's Game 6 of the Bulls-Hawks NBA playoff series when he died.
His death was particularly eerie for his colleagues at WMAQ, where another sports anchor who was close to Hawks age, Darrian Chapman, collapsed and suddenly died while playing a game of hockey in 2002.
“It’s surreal,” said Ryan Baker, lead sports anchor at Chicago CBS station WBBM, who was at WMAQ at the time of Chapman's death.
“Daryl and I flew down to Atlanta on the same flight Wednesday. We laughed and talked and he seemed fine. When we landed around 5 p.m., I said, ‘Maybe I’ll see you a little later,’” Baker told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This morning (Thursday), we were all here for the Bulls’ shoot-around, and after my interviews, I asked everyone, ‘Where’s Daryl?’ No one had seen him.”
When Baker returned to his hotel, he got the shocking news from a WMAQ photographer on assignment with Hawks.
The photographer had asked security at the Omni Hotel inside the CNN Center where Hawks was staying to check on the sportscaster, after Hawks missed a wake-up call.
“I thought of his wife and children, and the folks at (WMAQ), who I had seen still dealing with the aftermath of Darrian’s death when I first got there. For them to have to deal with this again? Unbelievable.