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Legendary Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt Passes Away


After a five-year battle with early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ legendary Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 64, her son Tyler confirmed in a statement:

“She died peacefully this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most.Since 2011, my mother has battled her toughest opponent, early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ and she did so with bravely fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced. Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.

“For 64 years, my mother first built her life upon a strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Her foundation was also built upon love of her family and of her players, and love of the fundamentals of hard work which reflected her philosophy that ‘you win in life with people’. She was the fourth of five children – Tommy, Charles, Kenneth and Linda – born to Richard and Hazel Head on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tenn. Her tireless work ethic and her love of the game of basketball were created during the time she spent growing up on the family farm.

“She’ll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many – she was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure. We will all miss her immensely. A private service and burial will be held for my mother in Middle Tennessee. I ask that you respect the privacy of that time.

“We are in the process of finalizing the details of a public celebration of her life which will take place in one of her favorite places, Thompson-Boling Arena. Once those details are finalized, we will share them with you. Thank you.”

Summitt built the legendary Lady Vols’ basketball program from the ground up, becoming the head coach in her early 20s shortly after her playing career at Tennessee-Martin. She built the program, and the sport of women’s basketball in many respects, through the 1970s and 1980s, all the while making the Lady Vols the premier program in the nation by the 80s.

Under Summitt’s guidance, The Lady Vols won eight national titles between 1987-2008 and 16 SEC crowns in that span as well. Summitt added an Olympic gold medal as a coach in 1984 to go along with a silver that she earned as a player in 1976.

She did it all with a signature stare that demanded the best from here players on and off the court and a humility that reflected her small-town upbringing.

Summitt retired as head coach following the 2011-12 season after learning of her diagnosis in 2011. She has served as the Head Coach Emeritus since that time to the extent that her health has allowed, while also focusing on The Pat Summitt Foundation and finding a cure to Alzheimer’s.

“Pat Summitt was many things to many people,” former UT football coach Phillip Fulmer said in a statement. “Pat was a great person, loving mother, passionate coach, and loyal friend. We shared a lot of years working together and spreading the word about Tennessee Athletics. We had wonderful personal times talking about life, our respective teams, or helping each other recruit. Her legacy as a basketball coach is iconic, but her greatest legacy may well be through The Pat Summitt Foundation and her role in leading the battle against Alzheimer’s!”

A private service and burial for family and friends will be held in Middle Tennessee. A public service to celebrate her life will take place at Thompson-Boling Arena, on the campus of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Details for the celebration of life will be shared at a later date.

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