Herman Boone, the inspiration behind the classic film Remember the Titans, died Wednesday at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 84.
ESPN reports that the legendary coach led T.C. Williams High School to an undefeated season and state championship in 1971. More importantly, he played a key role in combating the racism that permeated the Alexandria community as a result of the school district’s efforts to desegregate.
“I think that’s the formula for race relations throughout the world. People have to learn to talk to one another,” Boone told the Washington Post in May while reflecting on the challenges he faced as a coach. “You have to learn to talk to that individual, and when you talk to that individual, you learn to trust that individual, and that’s the greatest gift God gave to man.”
As news of his passing circulated in the media, friends and colleagues remembered the indelible mark he left on his community.
“He touched many lives and hearts across the world. He was inspirational for so many people, including me as one of his former students,” Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr., the Alexandria City superintendent of schools, said in a statement. “Alexandria City Public Schools was fortunate to have him as an icon at such a critical time in our history. He will be dearly missed.”
In 2004, Boone was inducted into the Hall of Fame at North Carolina Central University, where he had previously attended the school and earned two degrees. In March, the new basketball media room was named after him.
On behalf of The Root, I’d like to express our condolences to Boone’s friends and family. The sports community has lost a legend.