Legendary coach John Thompson dies at 78

Legendary college basketball coach John Thompson has died, according to a statement released by his family Monday.

The Hall of Fame coach known as “Big John” coached the Georgetown Hoyas from 1972 until 1999, winning his first and only National Championship in 1984 - the first black head coach in NCAA basketball to do so.

In the statement posted on the Georgetown Hoyas Twitter account, Thompson's family wrote:

"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.”

Thompson was also a strong voice against racism and for social justice.

He famously walked off the court prior to a game in 1989 to protest Proposition 48, an NCAA rule that denied financial aid to sports recruits who failed to meet minimum scores on standardized college-admission tests.

Future NBA greats Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutumbo, and Allen Iverson were among the players who were coached by Thompson during their college careers.

Philadelphia 76ers legend Iverson posted a tribute to Thompson on Twitter saying (quote): “Thanks For Saving My Life Coach. I’m going to miss you, but I’m sure that you are looking down on us with a big smile.”

The cause of his death was not immediately known. John Thompson was 78 years old.

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