Legendary Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt, one of the people most responsible for the success of today's women's game, passed away Tuesday at the age of 64. Summitt had been battling Alzheimer's after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2011.
Summitt retired following the 2012 season after compiling an NCAA-record 1,098 wins in 38 seasons in Rocky Top. She was the first coach in college basketball, men's or women's, to reach the 1,000-win plateau. Along with her overall win mark, Summitt led the Lady Vols to 31-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, eight NCAA National Championships and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012.
Among those to react to the passing of Summitt on Tuesday was former Tennessee quarterback and friend to the former Lady Vol coach, Peyton Manning. Manning released the following statement upon hearing the news.
"I've always been honored to call Pat Summitt my friend. She was always very supportive of my career and I enjoyed seeing her back at a Tennessee football game or when she would come to Indianapolis to see Tamika Catchings play. We would always get together and I made it a point when I came to Knoxville to visit with her.
"She was one of the people I consulted with following my junior year when I was deciding whether to turn pro early or stay in college. She gave me some very valuable advice during that time. My teammates and I went to a lot of Lady Vols games when we were in school, and I really enjoyed watching her teams play.
"I just always appreciated Pat's friendship and support. I was always impressed with how all of her former players spoke about her. You speak to people like Tamika Catchings or Chamique Holdsclaw, and they just talk about the role that Pat played in all their lives on and off the court. You can just tell the impact that she had on those players.
"It would have been a great experience to play for her. She could have coached any team, any sport, men's or women's. It wouldn't have mattered because Pat could flat out coach. I will miss her dearly, and I am honored to call her my friend. My thoughts and prayers are with Tyler and their entire family."