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A College Coaching Legend Is Dead

Newser — John Johnson

One of the greats among college basketball coaches is gone: John Thompson, who became the first Black head coach to win a national championship, has died at 78, reports ESPN and WJLA.

No cause of death has been released. Thompson coached the Georgetown Hoyas from 1972-99, per CBS News, and he led the Hoyas to a national title in 1984 with star player Patrick Ewing.

He also played college ball himself, for Providence, and he played two seasons with the NBA's Boston Celtics in the 1960s. He was the "real-life Black Panther," says WJLA sports anchor Lou Holder.

"He was larger than life for Black people, for mankind, for social justice."

Thompson memorably walked off the court before a game in 1989 to protest Proposition 48, which banned academically ineligible freshmen from getting scholarships, per ESPN.

Thompson said it would unfairly hurt minority students. "This is a person that, when I came to college—I was 18—helped me to grow," said Ewing, the current Georgetown coach, last year.

"Even though my mom and dad were always there, he was always a person I could pick up the phone and call if I had a problem or if I had a question." (His death follows that of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.)

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