Pat Summitt, who won more games than anyone in college basketball history, man or woman, died early Tuesday, five years since being diagnosed at 59 with early onset dementia in the form of Alzheimer’s.
The legendary coach, who never had a losing record in 38 seasons, shocked the sports world in May 2011 when she announced she would continue at the University of Tennessee despite the diagnosis. It was as if she were staring down her disease with the same icy glare she made famous while winning eight national championships and the respect of a nation that didn’t pay much attention to women’s sports when she was growing up.
“It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia Sue Head Summitt," her son Tyler Summitt said in a statement on Tuesday. "She died peacefully this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most."
Summit coached that one last season with great help from her assistants, and ended her career winning an astonishing 84% of her games (1,098-208). President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, recognized, with the Congressional Gold Medal, as the nation’s highest civilian awards.
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