Don Haskins takes the “Glory Road” to heaven

May 14th, 2009 - 11:56 pm ICT by GD  

“The show must go on…” and so must the game, sometimes even when one of it’s brightest star ceases to shine. Much like when legendary coach and stalwart of the American basketball legacy, Don Haskins passed away on Sept 8, 2008, in El Paso, Texas, while Texans united in mourning to the strains of “I put on (For my City)” by Young Jeezy and Kanye West played by the local radio-station, as the city paid it’s parting respect to not just a ball-player, but a hero.

Born Donald Lee Haskins, at Enid, Oklahoma on March 14, 1930, this sporting legend began his career as a collegiate player, having played 3 years under another all-time great,Henry Iba, at the then Oklahoma A& M.Serving as head coach at the Texas Western College from 1961-1999, his career spanned a winning streak which boasted of a 719-353 record with only 5 losing seasons.

Credited for 14 Western Athletic Conference Championships, 4 WAC tournament titles,14 NCAA tournament berths and 7 trips to NIT, Don led UTEP to 17 20-plus win seasons and assisted in the Olympic team coaching in 1972.

He is however, probably best remembered for his dramatic 1966 team victory, leading the Miners (the first championship team to feature an all black starting line-up) over the University of Kentucky Wild Cats.

The symbolic disintegration of racial stereotypes in the heart of the far West, captured Hollywood imagination, and became a story-teller’s delight, inspiring Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Glory Road” based on Haskin’s autobiography by Dan Wetzel.

A heartwarming Disney production,it essayed a hero’ rise against adversity and prejudice to uphold the integrity of a game, that for him and generations to come became the greatest levelers of all time.

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