By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer,

Cliff Dixon, who was known at one time as NBA superstar Kevin Durant’s “adopted brother,” was shot to death at an Atlanta nightclub March 20.

Multiple reports confirmed that Durant’s former AAU basketball teammate was fatally wounded at the SL nightclub during what was supposed to be his 32nd birthday party.  The current Golden State Warriors star mentioned Dixon during his emotional speech after winning his NBA Most Valuable Player Award when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2014.

Basketball player Cliff Dixon, who grew up like a brother to NBA superstar Kevin Durant, was killed at an Atlanta nightclub on March 20. (Courtesy Photo)

“All my friends: Cliff , Vernon , Tay , Rodney , and Ryan , you keep me sane every day.  There are days where I come home upset from practice or a game and you just brighten my day up.  I thank you guys. You mean the world to me. I wouldn’t be here without you guys.  This is our trophy too.”

Dixon, 32, a Suitland native also, became a celebrity after dating the Atlanta-based “Love and Hip Hop” star Erica Mena.  According to, Mena posted a message about Dixon’s murder, saying, “We all deal with so much. You dealt with a lot. I’m so sorry this happened, you didn’t deserve this. Rest in forever peace. Watch over your blood sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and your mommy. I know they are so broken right now.”

Dixon was wounded in the parking lot of SL Lounge on Buford Highway in an Atlanta suburb just after 1 a.m. Thursday, March 21  Chamblee (GA) police confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Spokesman Michael Beller told the newspaper Dixon arrived at the bar and was standing in the parking lot when he was shot multiple times. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta, where he later died of his injuries.

Durant and Dixon grew up as surrogate brothers after the NBA world champion’s mother, Wanda, brought him into their home and effectively helped raise him along with her son at 16 years old.

Dixon graduated from Suitland High School and played college basketball Hutchinson Junior College before enrolling at Western Kentucky University for two seasonsHe was dismissed from the Hilltoppers program for a violation of team rules after reportedly not returning to the bench when he didn’t play in the first half of a game in 2011.  Dixon then played professional basketball in Austria in 2018.

Neighborhood associates tell the AFRO that while Dixon and Durant were still close, their relationship had become somewhat strained recently. Initially Dixon gave the reclusive basketball prodigy “street credibility” in Prince George’s County, while he was in high school and making a name for himself as one of the top basketball recruits in the nation.

However, after turning pro they reached an impasse over a credit card bill.  Durant had also pulled away for “image reasons” as well.  A source, who didn’t want to be identified for fear or retaliation in Atlanta tells the AFRO that “sooner or later that life comes back to get you.  It looks like a hit to me.”

Less than 24 hours after the incident a stoic Durant went back to the sanctuary of the basketball court. He scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Warriors in leading them to a 112-89 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Durant isn’t the only member of the Warriors who had close relationship with Dixon. Former DeMatha guard Quinn Cook, who is from also from D.C., was visibly shaken during the National Anthem and made only one of his six shot attempts during the game.  Durant has dedicated the remainder of this season to Dixon’s memory.