Eight NCAA titles, 1,098 career victories and seven NCAA Coach of the Year Awards aren't the only reasons why Pat Summit is revered.
The legendary Tennessee women's basketball coach endeared herself in the hearts of Lady Vols and other members of the basketball world in a multitude of other ways.
In her 38 years as the head coach of Tennessee, Summitt became a legend through her unique methods of coaching. From the moment she assumed the role of head coach before the 1974-75 season, she got the very best out of every one of her players.
She knew her only job wasn't to coach players, but to help them improve their lives. Every measure that she could take to brighten her players' futures and set them up for success was carried out with a second thought.
Her most impressive stat ever: Every single one of her players has graduated.
Now Summitt's focus will switch from the battles that she fought against opposing coaches and teams to the war that she is waging within her own mind.
Back in August 2011, the all-time winningest women's college basketball coach of all time publicly announced that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, three months prior.
Despite the crippling diagnosis, she refused to succumb to the disease.
“There’s not going to be any pity party and I’ll make sure of that,” were her words (per govolsxtra.com). Obviously, as you would expect from Summitt, there was absolutely no pity party held in her honor.
She continued to coach the team, albeit with some help from assistant coach Holly Warlick, and led the Lady Vols to an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament in her final season.
Summitt was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2012 ESPYs on Wednesday night, an honor given to a sports figure who has demonstrated supreme courage in the face of adversity.
She joins the likes of Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King, Dean Smith, Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell and Jim Valvano as a recipient.
The honor is more than well-deserved.
Most people would have their world come crashing down upon them after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. The average person would understandably wallow in self-pity and stop doing the things they love...for a week or two at least.
That's not Summitt's method of operation, though. She received the bad news and kept living her life as best she could.
Summitt has done more in her lifetime than most people could imagine to do in two, and no matter what the future holds for her, she will forever be remembered as not only a legendary basketball coach, but a legendary human being.
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