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Mike Bianchi: Jimmy 'Bubba' Hewitt, Orlando Magic co-founder who died Sunday, gave us pro sports

By Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

ORLANDO, Fla. — So long, Bubba.

Rest in peace, Bubba.

But mostly, thank you, Bubba.

Thank you for literally making Magic.

Thank you for believing in your hometown.

Thank you for bringing professional sports to Orlando.

 

Jimmy Hewitt — the Central Florida businessman who co-founded the Orlando Magic and fondly called all of his friends and acquaintances "Bubba" — died early Sunday morning at the age of 79.

He had been suffering from advanced stages of dementia and recently contracted the coronavirus.

Hewitt grew up in Orlando in a one-parent home, played running back at Edgewater High School where his nickname was "Shifty," worked his way through Florida State University and became a self-made millionaire. He and his brother, Bob, established themselves as entrepreneurs by founding a chain of daycare centers called "The Child's Place" that eventually was sold to Gerber — the national baby food company.

Hewitt's legacy will be that of a caring father to son, Ben and daughter, Whitney; a loving husband of nearly 60 years to wife Rosemary; and a man of tremendous faith and spirituality, but to sports fans in Orlando, he will always be remembered as the father and founder of the Orlando Magic.

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