Former Syracuse star Pearl Washington in fight with cancer

Washington starred for Syracuse in the mid-'80s.
Getty Images/Collegiate Images

Former NBA player and Syracuse basketball star Dwayne "Pearl" Washington’s bout with cancer has gotten tougher.

Washington, 52, has suffered a relapse of the brain cancer he has been battling since 1995, Brandon Steiner and Syracuse University confirmed to FOX Sports. Steiner, a friend of Washington’s and CEO of Steiner Sports, has set up a GoFundMe, which you can access here if you want to donate to help with his care. From the GoFundMe page:

My longtime friend, Pearl Washington, a former Syracuse Orange basketball star who also played for the Nets and Heat in the NBA, has suffered a relapse of a brain tumor that he has been dealing with since 1995.

Pearl has been sticking in for a while, but unfortuantely he has taken a turn for the worse. He can't walk anymore. I'm trying to get this next phase more comfortable for him.

Pearl will now require round-the-clock 24-hour care, a wheelchair and other necessities. I along with many other fellow Orange alumni are doing what we can to raise money for one of my favorite people in the world. Please consider donating.

"He looks like he’s better, then he’s not, then he is," Steiner told FOX Sports. "He just got into Sloan Kettering [Cancer Center], and he’s been there for a month."

Steiner says he will conduct a chat on his Facebook page Monday, which former Syracuse star John Wallace and current assistant coach Mike Hopkins will participate in, as well. He was not sure if Washington would be able to join.

"He was one of the first stars, the face of Syracuse basketball. He was worldly," Hopkins, who played at ‘Cuse in the early ’90s and who has been an assistant there since 1996, told FOX Sports. "I was a suburban kid from Southern California who was dreaming to be Pearl Washington in the mean streets of Laguna Hills, CA. You know what I mean? And so, there was this connection to this person who just connected with people from all over. He had that smile and that passion and the way he played, which was attractive. And on top of that, he’s our family, so whenever a family member is in need, it’s a call to all."

Washington played in the NBA for three years with the Nets from 1986-88 and the Heat in 1988-89, but he made a name for himself as a collegiate standout at Syracuse.

The man who just about everyone so affectionately refers to as "Pearl," which started because of his resemblance to former NBA star Earl "The Pearl" Monroe when he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, averaged 15.7 points per game during his three-year college career. He was a pest inside coach Jim Boeheim’s defense and ranks 26th on Syracuse’s all-time scoring list.

"You fell in love with the school because of him," said Hopkins. "Then, as a coach, whenever I want to do a fundraiser, he’s there. Salvation Army, he’s there. He’s done so many things in our community, and we’re going to do everything we can to help him."

Fred Katz covers the NBA for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.