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 NEW YORK (AP) - A standing-room-only crowd packed the funeral for Stephon Marbury's father on Thursday, including famous basketball players and residents who considered ``Mr. Don'' Marbury the mayor of their close-knit, hardscrabble Brooklyn neighborhood.
``Everyone knew him and loved him,'' said James Jones, 40, a construction worker who grew up playing ball with the Marbury family. ``His mannerisms drew you to him.''
``He loved the kids. The place where we played, we called 'The Garden.' But, you know, it was better than Madison Square Garden. I wouldn't trade growing up here for nothing in the world.''
Donald Marbury was taken from Madison Square Garden to a hospital during halftime of the Knicks' loss to Phoenix on Sunday night. He died of a heart problem before the game ended.
On Wednesday, Stephon Marbury said in a statement: ``My father left his legacy (where) he always wanted us to finish playing, at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.''
On Thursday, mourners - including former players John Starks and Allan Houston - filtered through the frosty air, past tenements and chain-link-fenced body shops and into the flower-filled Coney Island Gospel Assembly to console each other and remember ``Mr. Don.''
A section of wooden pews was set aside for family and Stephon Marbury's teammates.
The neighborhood - and the Marburys - already suffered the recent loss of Robert Williams, known as Mr. Lou, who coached the kids alongside Mr. Don.
Back in the day, people leaned against the chain link on summer nights to watch some of the best street ball in the city, coached by the two men.
Their prodigies included Sebastian Telfair, Quincy Douby and former Providence guard Jamel Thomas. And, of course, Stephon's brothers, who went on to play some fine college ball.
``I'm sure Mr. Lou said to Mr. Don, 'You come up here, buddy. Let's sit back now and see if our kids learned what we taught them,''' Jones said.
``Their strongest message to us: Take care of family. In the end, that's all you've got is your family. I think we kids learned that lesson real good.''
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