Pat Summitt dead at age 64

Mar 21, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Lady Volunteers head coach emeritus Pat Summitt in the first round of the women's NCAA Tournament against the Boise State Broncos at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Summitt watches Tennessee’s women’s NCAA Tournament game against Boise State in 2015.

From NBA.com staff reports

Former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, who amassed more than 1,000 career wins at the school and won eight nationl championships there, has died at age 64. The news was first announced via the Pat Summit Foundation’s Twitter account.

Summitt stepped down as coach of the Lady Vols in 2012 after she was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. Even after stepping down, though, Summitt remained involved with the program, holding the title of head coach emeritus.

Summitt’s son, Ross “Tyler” Summitt, issued the following statement Tuesday morning:

“It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia Sue Head Summitt.

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.

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.”

She had coached the team for 38 seasons, amassing 1,098 wins — which is more than any other Division I coach. She was the NCAA’s coach of the year seven times, played for the U.S. Olympic team in 1976 in the first year of Olympic women’s basketball as the team took home a silver medal.

She also sent 39 players to the WNBA, 15 of whom were first-round picks and produced three No. 1 overall picks as well. Two of her former players, Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings, have won WNBA MVPs.

At the time of her retirement, 78 individuals who were mentored in the UT program by Summitt occupied basketball coaching or administrative positions. Among them is Tennessee’s current coach, Holly Warlick, who played for Summitt from 1976-80 and coached beside her from 1985-2012.

In 2012, Summit was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards.

Born to the late-Richard and Hazel Albright Head on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tenn., Pat was the fourth of five children. After graduating from Cheatham County High in Ashland City in 1970, she went on to the University of Tennessee-Martin, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1974 and leading the women’s basketball team to two national championship tournaments. At 22, she was named coach of the Lady Vols and success soon followed for her at the school.

After playing in the 1976 Olympics, Summitt went on to coach the U.S. Junior National and U.S. National teams to multiple championships and medals. The crowning moment there came in 1984 when Summitt, as coach of the 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic team, lead them to the gold medal during the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles.

Summitt is survived by her mother, Hazel Albright Head; son, Ross “Tyler” Summitt (AnDe); sister, Linda; brothers, Tommy (Deloris), Charles (Mitzi) and Kenneth (Debbie).

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.

Memorial gifts may be made to The Pat Summitt Foundation by visiting www.patsummitt.org/donate.

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