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Pat Summitt passes away at 64

The legendary Tennessee basketball coach passed away peacefully at an assisted living home after a battle with early onset dementia.

2007 NCAA Women's Final Four - Tennessee v UNC Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt has passed away, her son Tyler said in a statement on Tuesday morning. Summitt was the winningest coach in the history of women’s college basketball. She was 64 years old.

Tyler Summitt, Pat’s son issued a statement on Tuesday morning.

"Since 2011, my mother has battled her toughest opponent, early onset dementia, 'Alzheimer's Type,' and she did so with bravely fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced," Tyler Summitt said. "Even though it's incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease."

Summitt began her coaching career in 1974, before women’s basketball was an NCAA-sanctioned sport. Starting as a graduate assistant, Summitt was quickly named head coach and led the Lady Vols to a 16-8 record. She built off this in the 1975-76 season that saw Tennessee finish 16-11 while Summitt was earning her master’s degree and training to play for the 1976 Women’s Olympic team, which she co-captained to a silver medal.

Middling performance in the mid-’70s gave way to dominance by its end. Tennessee won the first SEC women’s basketball tournament in 1979 and Summitt won her first NCAA championship in 1987.

Summitt was a perfectionist, an icon. Known for her steely glare from the sideline at players who disappointed her, she demanded nothing short of perfection from her players and had an innate ability to coax it out of them. When Summitt retired from full-time coaching in 2012, her list of accomplishments was unsurpassed in basketball.

  • Eight NCAA Division 1 Basketball Championships
  • 16 SEC Championships
  • 16 SEC Tournament Championships
  • Eight-time SEC Coach of the Year
  • Seven-time NCAA Coach of the Year
  • Naismith Coach of the 20th Century
  • 2012 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in 2000
  • 1,098-208 career record (.841)

Summitt announced she was diagnosed with early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type’ in 2011. Despite the diagnosis she coached the 2011-12 season and told the Knoxville News-Sentinel, “There's not going to be any pity party and I'll make sure of that.” Summitt remained attached to the Volunteers program as head coach emeritus after stepping down.

Details of a memorial service for Summitt have not yet been announced.