Tennessee legend Pat Summitt passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 64 after battling Alzheimer’s disease since her diagnosis in August of 2011.
The basketball coaching icon brought global recognition to the University of Tennessee and advanced women’s sports while winning 1,098 games and eight national championships.
Summitt’s son, Tyler, released the following statement through The Pat Summitt Foundation website on Tuesday morning:
“It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia Sue Head Summitt.
She died peacefully this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most.
Since 2011, my mother has battled her toughest opponent, early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ and she did so with bravely fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced. Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.
For 64 years, my mother first built her life upon a strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Her foundation was also built upon love of her family and of her players, and love of the fundamentals of hard work which reflected her philosophy that ‘you win in life with people’.
She was the fourth of five children – Tommy, Charles, Kenneth and Linda – born to Richard and Hazel Head on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tenn. Her tireless work ethic and her love of the game of basketball were created during the time she spent growing up on the family farm.
She’ll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many – she was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure.
We will all miss her immensely.
A private service and burial will be held for my mother in Middle Tennessee. I ask that you respect the privacy of that time.
We are in the process of finalizing the details of a public celebration of her life which will take place in one of her favorite places, Thompson-Boling Arena. Once those details are finalized, we will share them with you.
The Pat Summitt Foundation also included an obit:
“You win in life with people.”
This is one simple statement that Patricia Sue Head Summitt embodied, lived by and passed on to so many throughout her 64 years of life. She ‘won’ every day of her life because of the relationships she developed, nurtured and cherished. Relationships with her family and friends. Relationships with players, coaches, and fans. And most importantly, a strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday, June 28 2016, Pat passed away peacefully, following a courageous battle with early onset dementia, “Alzheimer’s Type.” This disease attacked a lifetime of precious memories, memories that she has now won back as she rests in her eternal home. Memories that will live on in each and every relationship she developed throughout her life.
Born to the late-Richard and Hazel Albright Head on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tenn., Pat was the fourth of five children. Her tireless work ethic was developed early in life as she handled a variety of daily chores on her family’s farm, while never missing a day of school. She worked hard to keep up with her three older brothers, who taught her the game of basketball – a game that would later become a passion and profession for her.
After graduating from Cheatham County High in Ashland City in 1970, she went on to the University of Tennessee-Martin, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1974 and leading the women’s basketball team to two national championship tournaments. Her ability to be a leader on the basketball court was evident, and shortly after graduating, she accepted a position at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville as the head coach of the women’s basketball team – as a 22-year old.
For the next 38 years, the farm girl from Henrietta, Tenn. would impact the game of women’s basketball like no one in the history of the sport. She guided the Lady Vols to eight NCAA championships, 32 combined Southeastern Conference titles and became the winningest NCAA D-1 basketball coach of all time on March 22, 2005. She was named the NCAA Coach of the Year seven times and the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000.
Pat also excelled internationally, as both a coach and player. As a player, she was a co-captain of the 1976 U.S. women’s team, earning the silver medal during the Olympic Games held in Montreal. She then went on to coach the U.S. Junior National and U.S. National teams to multiple championships and medals, culminating with a magical run as head coach of the 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic team, leading them to the gold medal during the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles.
Of all the records, awards, and stats, Pat would point to one number as the most significant in her career – 161. This is the number of Lady Vols who contributed to the 1,098 wins over the span of her illustrious career. To these 161 student-athletes she was more than a coach – she was a friend, mentor and a loving mother.
Motherhood suited Pat, and on September 21, 1990, she and R.B. Summitt II had their first and only child, Ross “Tyler” Summitt. The relationship between a mother and son is a special one, and they had an unbreakable bond built on their love for God and for one another. They also shared a passion for the game of basketball, a game that would provide the two of them many unique moments and milestones, side by side.
She was most proud of one special moment they shared that outshines all the others. On May 5, 2012, Pat and Tyler were baptized together. On this day, they decided together to go public with their faith and professed their love for and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. On this day, they created the ultimate and eternal memory, together.
Pat is survived by her mother, Hazel Albright Head; son, Ross “Tyler” Summitt (AnDe); sister, Linda; brothers, Tommy (Deloris), Charles (Mitzi) and Kenneth (Debbie).
A private service and burial for family and friends will be held in Middle Tennessee. A public service to celebrate her life will take place at Thompson-Boling Arena, on the campus of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Details for the celebration of life will be shared at a later date.
Memorial gifts may be made to The Pat Summitt Foundation by visiting www.patsummitt.org/donate.