Patrick Ewing, Georgetown University’s Men’s Basketball Head Coach, released a statement on Monday (Aug. 31) reacting to the death of legendary coach John Thompson. Thompson, 78, died on Sunday and is survived by his sons, John Thompson III and Ronny Thompson, and daughter Tiffany Thompson. Ewing played under Thompson during his college career and called him a “father figure.” He is one of many in the sports world who have come out praising Thompson for his contributions as coach, player, mentor and friend.
“Georgetown University, the sport of basketball and the world has lost someone who I consider to be a father figure, confidant and role model,” said Ewing in a post to Twitter.
While playing for Thompson, Ewing led the Hoyas to the 1984 NCAA Championship over the University of Houston Cougars, 84-75. He was named that year’s tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Upon winning the championship, Thompson became the first African American coach to win an NCAA title. Ewing went on to play 15 seasons with the New York Knicks from 1985 to 2000. He retired in 2002.
Thompson went on to coach other future NBA legends including Dikembe Mutumbo, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson. Earlier Monday, Iverson released his own statement in response to Thompson’s passing.
“Thanks for saving my life, coach,” said Iverson on Twitter. ”I’m going to miss you, but I’m sure that you are looking down on us with a big smile.”
Thompson’s family also issued a statement regarding his death, calling him a “historical shepard” of basketball and said he was “dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else.”
Georgetown’s Basketball program also released a video featuring a montage of some of his greatest moments in tribute to the Hall of Fame coach.
A cause of death has not been announced, although family members have said he had been facing several health challenges, according to CNN.