By Joseph Phillips, Crusader Sports Editor
Known as the first African-American head coach to win a National championship on the NCAA Division I college basketball level, Georgetown Hoyas legend John Thompson Jr. passed away on Sunday, August 30, according to ESPN. The announcement of Thompson’s passing was made via a family statement through Georgetown University, as the former Hoya and legendary coach was solely responsible for putting the school’s men’s basketball program on the map.
“Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on, but most importantly off, the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said.
“However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear every day.”
During his career, Thompson became the first African-American head coach to win a major collegiate championship in basketball when he led the Hoyas to the NCAA Division I national championship in 1984.
Thompson was also inducted into both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Thompson also played college basketball for the Providence Friars and earned honorable mention All-American honors in 1964. He played two seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Boston Celtics, who won an NBA championship in both seasons.
Thompson became a high school coach in Washington, D.C., before coaching Georgetown for 27 seasons. He worked as a radio and television sports commentator after his retirement from coaching in 1999.
Thompson passed at the age of 78 and was one of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport.