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Pat Summitt Dead: Legendary Women’s Basketball Coach Dies at 64

Pat Summitt has died at the age of 64, the Associated Press reports. The legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach passed away on Tuesday, June 28.

Pat Summit
Pat Summitt attends the 2011 ‘Sports Illustrated’ Sportsman of the Year award presentation at the IAC Building on Dec. 6, 2011, in New York City.

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“She died peacefully this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most,” her son, Tyler Summitt, said in a statement.

“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,” he continued. “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.”

Summitt graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1974 and became the school’s head coach at just 22. She and her Lady Vols went on to dominate the court in the late 1980s and 1990s, winning six titles in 12 years. The team won eight national championships in total and earned 1,098 wins.

Pat Summit 1984
Coach Pat Summit is carried off the floor by her players after the USA wins the Gold in basketball against Korea on Aug. 7, 1984, at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

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Additionally, she was named NCAA coach of the year seven times and was the cocaptain when her team won a silver medal in the U.S. Olympics in 1976. In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Clarksville, Tennessee, native announced in 2011 that she was diagnosed with early onset dementia, and retired one year later.

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“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,” Tyler said in a statement, via the AP. “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.”

According to Summitt’s website, she will be remembered in a public service at Thompson-Boling Arena. A private service and burial will follow for family and friends.

Several of Summitt’s former players and colleagues have reacted to the news of her passing on social media. “Blessed to be coached and mentored by a trail blazer! She changed the world 1 by 1. #greatness#Legend#161,” Wichita State University coach Jody Adams tweeted. WNBA player Lindsey Harding added: “This is a sad day in the basketball community. Thank you Pat Summitt for everything you’ve done for our game.”

Summitt is survived by her son, Tyler, (whom she shared with ex-husband R.B. Summitt); her mother, Hazel Albright Head; her sister, Linda Atteberry; and three brothers. 

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