John Thompson remembered as builder of young lives

WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama remembered John Thompson not so considerably as a basketball mentor but as anyone who reshaped life.

“What designed mentor Thompson exclusive, what compelled us to rejoice his existence today, is what he did to establish youthful adult men,” Obama mentioned Saturday.

Thompson’s existence was honored through a virtual memorial. It was held in conjunction with the Georgetown College and the Thompson Household and by means of Facebook Reside.

The 78-yr-previous Hall of Famer, who coached Georgetown from 1972 to 1999, died Aug. thirty. He was described by individuals who realized him very best — gamers, colleagues and other individuals in the group — as a chief, mentor and social activist.

Obama was a person of the initially speakers, and he rattled off the names of Hoyas greats Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson.

The previous president spoke of the boycott Thompson took in 1989 versus NCAA Proposition forty two soon after he felt it was biased versus underprivileged learners. He referred to the time that yr Thompson met with a local drug kingpin who was considered to be fraternizing with his gamers.

“He was brave then and it is astonishing in hindsight. We have not banished injustice from our modern society, far from it,” Obama mentioned. “But we are living by means of a golden age of youthful black activism. We’re living by means of a golden of activism on the basketball court docket, too,” Obama mentioned. “Coach Thompson didn’t like it when men and women called him a pioneer but there’s no doubt his illustration has echoed down the generations. There’s no doubt his imprint endures.”

Thompson’s previous gamers Ewing, Mutombo, and Mourning all spoke as nicely as coaching peers Jim Boeheim and Nolan Richardson and Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

Ewing, who was Thompson’s star player on the 1984 national championship crew and is now the present-day Hoyas mentor, began out a theme of the afternoon which was the tough adore shown by the six-foot-ten mentor who strolled the sidelines with his signature white towel above his shoulder for 3 decades.

“I felt like I have dropped a father,” Ewing mentioned. “I know he’s in heaven looking down on me cursing me out like he does from time to time but also with satisfaction in the perform we’re doing here.”

Knight mentioned he realized Thompson in a wide variety of methods for above 50 many years and preferred him early on to be the initially African-American on his board of administrators when Nike went community mainly because he realized no person would take him as a token.

“John proved to be a good member and he had a good insight,” mentioned Knight. “He wasn’t just a basketball mentor he contributed enormously to modern society in full.”

Thompson’s Hoyas would be a person of Nike’s signature teams as he served on the board for thirty many years.

Thompson was there is the early times of the Huge East Conference. Among his coaching rivals was Boeheim of Syracuse.

“He often will be Huge John,” Boeheim mentioned. “I’m just happy I had the option to contend versus him for so several many years.”

In spite of retiring as a men
tor soon after 27 many years, Thompson never ever remaining Georgetown and put in forty eight many years at the university.

Georgetown President John DeGioia described Thompson as a person of the most influential figures in university record.

“He led us to a area where we may possibly be much better ready to reside up to our ideals,” DeGioia mentioned.

“He had a quite various concept of what it meant to be a head men’s basketball mentor,” DeGioia mentioned. “He demanded the very best of us and introduced out the very best of us. He held us legitimate. We were privileged to be at Georgetown at the exact same time that John Thompson was here. We are the university that we are today mainly because of John Thompson.”

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