Belmont Avenue now shares name with Dwayne ‘the Pearl’ Washington Way

Vincent Davis | 5/2/2019, 11:27 a.m.
Exactly three years after memorializing the life of Dwayne “the Pearl” Washington, one of New York City’s greatest sports prodigies ...

Exactly three years after memorializing the life of Dwayne “the Pearl” Washington, one of New York City’s greatest sports prodigies growing up in Brooklyn, New York, his family, friends and supporters celebrated his passing by officially honoring Washington with the street from his old Brownsville neighborhood being named after him.

Belmont Avenue on the corner of Mother Gaston Boulevard, east to Powell Street three blocks, is now Belmont Avenue-Dwayne “the Pearl” Washington Way.

Washington, a gifted, phenom basketball player who became legendary on playground and tournament courts, excelled on the rosters of Boys and Girls High and Syracuse University before being drafted in the first round by the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) in 1986, passed away at the age of 52 on April 20, 2016, from a cancerous brain tumor.

As a player, Washington was rated number one overall in 1983, his senior year of high school. He had an extraordinary handle and a crazy crossover that could leave his opponent standing still in position as he drove to the basket or fed an open teammate. His ability to shake an opponent from a very young age earned him the nickname “the Pearl” like Hall Of Famer, New York Knick great, Earl “the Pearl” Monroe. And it stuck.

The PEARL 31 Inc. Foundation, started by Washington’s sister Janie Bennett-Washington, a retired educator, shortly after his passing, initiated the street re-naming as part of their plan to continue her brother’s legacy by giving back to the community from which they’re from.

“We’re trying to do things to better the community of Brownsville,” said Washington’s son Dwayne Jr. “Help kids go to college, help kids have a better future, have alternatives to the streets.”

Needing 2,000 signatures from the community and the support of the State Assembly and the New York City Council, Washington’s sister initiated the work needed to get things started.

“I didn’t know where to start, but as time went on, I realized that my brother had a legacy that needed to be saved, continued. I wanted to make sure that the things that he wanted to do, that he couldn’t, that he was unable to do, that me as an educator I could take over and do.”