Local basketball announcer Vance Dawson dies at 57

Dawson was the go-to guy on the mic as the PA announcer for the Federal Way Eagles basketball team.

The South Sound basketball community recently lost legendary public address announcer Vance Dawson, who died unexpectedly at age 57 on the night of Saturday, April 1.

Known as one of the most iconic and memorable announcers in the area, Dawson made a lasting impact on the local community in King and Pierce counties as the voice of basketball games ranging from local high schools to collegiate teams.

“He didn’t do what he did for money. Hoops was his passion!” wrote Pierre Thaxton on a GoFundMe for Dawson. Thaxton says he is Dawson’s brother-in-law and served with him in the U.S. Navy. “My boy entertained and brought joy and laughter to any and all in his orbit.”

The GoFundMe, created to help Dawson’s wife and two daughters during this time, has raised over $9,000 toward a $20,000 goal.

Dawson graduated from Jefferson High School in 1983. He got his start on the mic back in 2005 when he attended an MLK Memorial tournament where he filled an announcer need and tried his talent there. He then went on to do numerous college and high school games ranging from Tacoma Community College to Federal Way high schools.

He was eventually hired by Jamal Crawford to be the voice of the CrawsOver Pro-Am League at Seattle Pacific University.

Once news of his passing made its way on social media, the outpouring of emotion from members of many basketball teams shared their memories of him.

Federal Way High School graduate and current assistant varsity coach Malik Montoya said Dawson gave him his nickname. “He gave me my nickname (Mtwice) from being number two and Malik Montoya! I thought that was so clever that I didn’t even think of it first,” Montoya said.

That was Dawson’s top skill — connecting with the players and the fans to provide an entertainment factor like none other. From naming FWHS alumni and current Minnesota Timberwolf Jaden McDaniels “JMac Airlines” the official airline of Federal Way High School to the energetic commentary of winter break tournaments, Dawson was always authentically himself when in front of a crowd.

“His energy is crazy, it’s insane. I’ve met people who come to our games just from the relationships he’s had and from just announcing other games. They love to hear his voice,” Montoya said.

It was clear Dawson knew the kids were more important than the basketball game at hand. “He loved his job and most importantly he loved our kids which makes him twice as special… He was so special and impacted so many lives with a mic,” Montoya said.

Up until his passing, he was always chatting with people about the game of basketball. Many people who were reminiscing on their memories with Dawson brought up events that happened just a month prior and to some like Montoya the day prior.

“I was speechless and a little in disbelief because we just had talked on the phone the day before! We talk every week so it hurt my heart to hear the news,” he said.

Federal Way senior Vaughn Weems even dedicated his performance in the 2023 WAVOR All-Star game. “He’s been with us through thick and thin,” Weems said to SBLive.

Dawson left his legacy on the game of basketball in the local area that coaches, fans, players and media members will remember.