BREAKING NEWS Public Health warns of possible coronavirus exposure at saloon in Red Bluff Full Story

John Thompson Jr., the first Black coach to win the NCAA championship, dies age 78

John Thompson Jr, the first Black basketball head coach to win the NCAA National Championship, died at his Arlington, Virginia home August 30, a family source tells CNN. He was 78.

Posted: Aug 31, 2020 9:23 AM
Updated: Aug 31, 2020 2:45 PM


John Thompson Jr., the first Black basketball head coach to win the NCAA National Championship, died at his Arlington, Virginia, home on Sunday night, according to his family. He was 78.

Thompson had been suffering from multiple health challenges, a family source said. The cause of death is unknown. He was surrounded by family and friends when he passed away.

Thompson coached at Georgetown University for 27 years, leading the Hoyas to their lone title in 1984. He later spoke about being singled out as the first African American head coach to win the National Championship.

'I was very proud of winning the national championship and I was very proud of the fact that I was a Black American, but I didn't like it if the statement implied that I was the first Black person who had intelligence enough to win the national championship,' he told ESPN.

'I might have been the first black person who was provided with an opportunity to compete for this prize, that you have discriminated against thousands of my ancestors to deny them this opportunity.'

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, videos and features

Taking over a team that had a 3-23 record, Thompson would go on to win close to 600 games, finishing after the 1998-1999 season with a 596-239 coaching record. He won the national coach of the year three times and also the Big East coach of year on three occasions.

The legendary coach led the Hoyas to three Final Fours (in 1982, 1984 and 1985), 24 straight postseason appearances (19 NCAA, five National Invitation Tournaments), and seven Big East tournament championships.

'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,' said a statement from the Thompson family.

'He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else.

'However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear every day.

'We will miss him but are grounded in the assurance that we carry his faith and determination in us. We will cherish forever his strength, courage, wisdom and boldness, as well as his unfailing love. We know that he will be deeply missed by many and our family appreciates your condolences and prayers.

'But don't worry about him, because as he always liked to say, 'Big Ace is cool.''

Seventy-five of Thompson's 77 players who stayed all four years received college degrees and 26 of his players were drafted in the NBA, including Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutumbo, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson.

'I'm going to miss you, but I'm sure that you are looking down on us with a big smile,' Iverson wrote in tribute to Thompson on social media.

READ: 'We all have Hoop Dreams'

Thompson played ball at Providence College and was drafted by the Boston Celtics, winning two NBA titles in his two-year career.

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 923648

Reported Deaths: 17559
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3050707044
Riverside675521306
San Bernardino641311073
Orange594421468
San Diego55898885
Kern34114420
Fresno31195439
Sacramento25882499
Santa Clara24665404
Alameda23636463
San Joaquin21988492
Contra Costa18877243
Stanislaus17814400
Tulare17730291
Ventura14409166
Imperial13023338
San Francisco12277145
Monterey1153892
San Mateo11278159
Santa Barbara9886126
Sonoma9601136
Merced9588155
Kings848683
Solano758676
Marin7107127
Madera506676
Placer429059
San Luis Obispo424032
Yolo325060
Butte313453
Santa Cruz284825
Shasta199931
Napa199816
Sutter188912
San Benito144915
El Dorado13684
Yuba133810
Mendocino115421
Tehama9219
Lassen7711
Lake70216
Glenn6793
Nevada6328
Humboldt56910
Colusa5536
Calaveras34721
Amador33716
Tuolumne2855
Inyo24015
Siskiyou2140
Mono1822
Del Norte1801
Mariposa812
Plumas760
Modoc450
Trinity280
Sierra60
Alpine40
Unassigned00
Chico
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 59°
Oroville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 55°
Paradise
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 59°
Chester
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 35°
Red Bluff
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 47°
Willows
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 59°
We're closing out the month of October on a beautiful note weather-wise over northern California with plenty of sunshine and above-average temperatures. Halloween will bring slightly warmer temperatures and more sunshine.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events