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ND Women’s Basketball

Former Irish player Crystal Erwin dies at 35

| Monday, July 27, 2020

Former Notre Dame women’s basketball forward Crystal Erwin died at the age of 35. News of her death came July 18.

Erwin played for the Irish from 2003 to 2007 season. Hailing from Rancho Cucamonga, California, Erwin is considered one of the greatest basketball players to come from St. Paul High School. She is the school’s all-time leader in career points (2,720), rebounds (1,630) and blocks (380), as well as single-season points scored (869).

“Very sad to hear that Crystal Erwin passed away,” St. Paul Principal and girls basketball coach Robert Miller tweeted. “Will always remember and appreciate her smile, laugh … She could light up a room with that smile.”

Her accolades included two Whittier Daily News Girls Basketball Player of the Year awards as a high school junior and senior and California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) 4AA Southern Section Player of the Year as a senior. As a member of the Irish, Erwin rarely put up flashy numbers, but was a mainstay on the court and started regularly. She went on to play professionally in Europe following her time in South Bend.

Erwin was also very active working in the South Bend community. As a junior she reached out to then-coordinator of women’s basketball operations Stephanie Menio about mentoring middle school girls in the community.

She would meet at least once per week with 15-20 girls and talk with them about difficult issues such as drug and alcohol abuse and violence, while also teaching them about respect and leadership. Erwin would even draw on her own experiences growing up in Southern California.

“It’s important that these girls understand that they’re not the only ones who go through these challenges,” Erwin said in a 2006 University story on her service. “I’ve had to deal with a lot of these same things myself and I know it’s not easy. I hope that they will hear what I went through and how I was able to stay positive and get to the place I’m at right now here at Notre Dame. That way, they can see that it is possible for great things to happen in their lives, no matter the circumstances.”

Former Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw shared her sympathies after Erwin passed.

Erwin is survived by her mother, Natalie; her father, Ray; her brother; and sons Marcel and Izaiah.

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