Illinois HS Coach, 'Hoop Dreams' Star Gene Pingatore Dies at Age 83

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2019

FILE - In this March 30, 2011 file photo, West head coach Gene Pingatore, from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Ill., talks to his team during the first half of the McDonald's All-American High School boys' basketball game in Chicago. Pingatore, the winningest boys basketball coach in Illinois history who gained national attention when he appeared in the 1994 documentary
Brian Kersey/Associated Press

Famed high school basketball coach Gene Pingatore died Wednesday at the age of 83, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).

St. Joseph HS @wearestjoes

It is with the heaviest heart that we announce that our Head Basketball Coach and Beloved Colleague, Gene Pingatore, passed away at his home yesterday, Wednesday, June 26th. We will keep the school community informed as arrangements become available. https://t.co/27hoPdD6Iu

He had spent 50 years at St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, becoming the winningest boys basketball coach in state history with 1,035 wins during his run.

St. Joseph also won two state championships and 13 sectional titles over the course of his storied career.

Perhaps most notably, Pingatore was one of the stars of the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams. The film followed two highly touted basketball players through their high school careers, with the coach featured prominently leading the varsity program.

Pingatore also coached three McDonald's All-Americans, including Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, who spoke highly of the coach on Twitter.

The coach was planning to return to the school for his 51st year with the program.