Kevin A. Tatum, 64, former Inquirer sportswriter

Kevin A. Tatum, 64, of Voorhees, N.J., an Inquirer sportswriter for almost three decades, died Friday at Cooper University Hospital in Camden of throat cancer.

Before joining the Inquirer's sports staff, where he covered college teams, Mr. Tatum worked for several other newspapers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the now-defunct Washington Star.

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Kevin A. Tatum

Mr. Tatum was one of the first African Americans to become an Inquirer sportswriter, and wrote more than 4,000 articles for the newspaper.

Mr. Tatum retired five years ago. He did so after the sports website Deadspin reported that he appeared to have plagiarized five paragraphs from a fan site and used them in a blog item.

His colleagues recalled him as a versatile beat writer whose main game was hoops.

"Kevin was a great basketball player himself, and he wound up being closely connected with a sport that he loved," recalled Jim Swan, the Inquirer's deputy sports editor. "He spent years on the college basketball beat in a town where that was a premier assignment, covering the game night in and night out. He was able to make a career out of covering a sport that he treasured."

On and off the job, Mr. Tatum was a shy man who nonetheless cherished camaraderie and friendship. "Kevin has a plethora of friends, all of whom I adopted as my own brothers," older sister Joyce Brown said.

With his brother Rodney, Mr. Tatum for 32 years hosted an annual Father's Day picnic in Washington, where he was born and raised.

"He was just open, welcoming, and had an awesome sense of humor," Brown said. "He never forgot anybody."

Mr. Tatum excelled in sports while attending Taft Junior High School and McKinley High School in Washington. Under the tutelage of his father - an athlete himself - Mr. Tatum first played baseball, but later became a star basketball player and a noted playmaker in high school.

Mr. Tatum studied journalism at Indian River Junior College in Florida and Minot State University in North Dakota.

He was predeceased by his brother Rodney.

In addition to his older sister, Mr. Tatum is survived by his father, John F. Tatum Sr.; another sister, Krista Benjamin; a brother, John Jr.; and by his aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A service has yet to be scheduled.

sballin@philly.com

215-854-5054

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