Coach Pat Summitt Dies at 64, Players and Sports Stars Send Tributes
Summitt had been in an ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
“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” said Tyler Summitt, Pat Summitt’s son, in a statement as part of an obituary posted on the Pat Summitt Foundation.
“She died peacefully this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most,” Tyler Summitt added.
Summitt’s obituary states that she was born to Richard and Hazel Albright on June, 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tenn. She grew up on her family’s farm as the fourth of five children. She developed her work ethic through doing chores on the farm and learned the game of basketball from her three older brothers.
For college, Summitt attended the University of Tennessee-Martin, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education. She led the women’s basketball team to two national championship tournaments and displayed evident leadership ability on the court. After graduating, she accepted a head coaching position for the women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville at the age of 22, an age not much older than her players.
“For the next 38 years, the farm girl from Henrietta, Tenn., would impact the game of women’s basketball like no one in the history of the sport,” the obituary stated. “She guided the Lady Vols to eight NCAA championships, 32 combined Southeastern Conference titles and became the winningest NCAA D-1 basketball coach of all time on March 22, 2005. She was named the NCAA Coach of the Year seven times and the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000.”
But of all the records and numbers, the most memorable number to Summitt was 161—the number of ‘Lady Vol’ basketball players she had coached.
“This is the number of Lady Vols who contributed to the 1,098 wins over the span of her illustrious career. To these 161 student-athletes she was more than a coach—she was a friend, mentor, and a loving mother.”
Likewise, an overarching trait in Summitt’s life was her ability to ‘win in life with people’—the building of success through relationships developed and nurtured with others, whether with family or players.
Below are former players, and other prominent people in the sports world sending their condolences to Summitt:
Peyton Manning statement on Pat Summitt: pic.twitter.com/LxMrrX1B7E
— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownTFP) June 28, 2016
— Coach Williams, M.Ed (@Ms_CWilliams31) June 28, 2016
She made an immeasurable contribution to our game, may she rest in peace.
Thank you, Pat Summitt. pic.twitter.com/TzGKxSBm4S
— Indiana Fever (@IndianaFever) June 28, 2016
Rest in peace to the greatest women’s basketball coach ever!!! You will be missed @patsummitt
— Jabari Parker (@JabariParker) June 28, 2016
Rest in Peace Pat Summitt pic.twitter.com/WQpGX7xRsH
— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) June 28, 2016
— NOTRE DAME WBB (@ndwbb) June 26, 2016
Summitt is survived by her mother, son, sister and three brothers. A public service celebrating her life be held at Thompson-Boling Arena on the campus of the Univeresity of Tennessee-Knoxville, with the date yet to be determined.