He called him "his hero".
Those were the words that Dwayne Washington, Jr. used to describe his famous father, Pearl Washington, when he got up to speak at the Syracuse basketball icon's public service in Brooklyn last Friday.
When speaking on his relationship with his father, Washington, Jr. said they kept it casual. They talked basketball. They went to NBA games. They would go out to eat.
"We didn't really do anything too crazy," he said last week. "We just enjoyed being in each other's company. We had fun talking about anything."
Washington, now 31, lives in Allentown, Pa., and works as a personal trainer for The Maxx Fitness Clubbzz.
Back in June 2015, he and his dad made an audition tape for the TV reality series "The Amazing Race", hoping to be cast on the show that pits teams of contestants against each other in a $1 million race around the world.
That audition video was played at Pearl's service last week in Brooklyn. It was the last time the father and son "hung out and had fun outside the hospital", Washington, Jr. said. It was a beautiful addition to the moment of remembrance for Pearl, showing off the playfulness, competitiveness, and overall joy of the man and his son. Of course, the recurrence of Pearl's brain tumor prevented the duo from competing on the reality show.
Washington, Jr. has since signed up a team in The Basketball Tournament, the summer basketball showcase that now awards $2 million to the winning team and includes the Syracuse entry, Boeheim's Army.
Pearl All-Stars, obviously named for the Syracuse legend, has qualified for TBT and will probably play in Philadelphia's Northeast regional that begins July 16. Washington has said he will coach the team, which is comprised of former overseas and college players.
Washington has been inundated with kind thoughts and messages going all the way back to when his dad fell ill late last summer. "A real positive person," he said. "He fervently believed that everything was going to get better."
But over the past few months, with the cancer unrelenting, Pearl tried to brace himself for what might transpire. Washington, Jr. and his fiancée, Ivette Thompson, had a baby, Aliyah Mikayla, seven weeks ago.
"The cancer started taking over his body and it was hard for me to get there because the baby was about to be born and then she was born," Washington, Jr. said. "I got there, thankfully, one week before he went and I was planning on taking the baby the next week, but he just went suddenly. That was just so hard to take in."
In this difficult time from his dad's diagnosis to his passing, he has leaned on his faith, a trait he inherited from his father. He has been so grateful, he said, for the outpouring of love for Pearl from around the world.
He's watched all the video of Pearl Washington. He's witnessed the "ruthless killer" with the devastating crossover dribble who could turn defenders into helpless observers. But, more importantly, he knows his father as the "nicest guy", the man who acknowledged everybody, remembered their names and made them feel special.
"I hope that the real tribute to my dad," Washington said at last Friday's service, "will be the actions of our lives - that we are a testament to the love and lessons that instilled in all of us."