WASHINGTON — Former DeMatha Catholic High School basketball coach Morgan Wootten has died, his family said early Wednesday morning. He was 88 years old.
The family released the following statement via DeMatha High School's Twitter, at 1:30 a.m:
"The Wootten Family is saddened to share the news that their loving husband and father Morgan Wootten passed away yesterday evening at 9:50 p.m. Morgan was surrounded by his family in prayer and passed away peacefully as he wished. The Wootten Family would like to extend their deepest gratitude for all the prayers and overwhelming support they have received during this time. Arrangements will be forthcoming."
Before its game on Wednesday in Hyattsville, Md., DeMatha honored the coach who did so much for the school. Taking a moment of prayer and reflection to honor him and his family.
Many people who knew Wootten, including former players, were at the game to pay respect in the place that he built his legacy. Black armbands were also worn to show respect for the coach.
"He impacted so many players and coach, many of who never met him," said current DeMatha basketball head coach Mike Jones.
Dematha Catholic, in a Facebook post on Monday, said the legendary coach was placed at home with hospice care.
"Just wanted to inform the DeMatha community that Morgan Wootten is home now with hospice care," DeMatha's Facebook post said. "Again, he wants the entire DeMatha community to know how much he sincerely appreciates all of the love and support he and Kathy (and the family) have received. The prayers mean the world to them!"
Wooten coached at DeMatha for 46 years from 1956 to 2002, helping the school win five national championships and 22 D.C. titles. He was also the first coach at the high school, college or professional basketball levels to reach 1,200 wins.
Wootten was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.
Condolences have poured in on Twitter, honoring Wooten's contribution to the game and offering sympathy to his family.
Wootten also helped DeMatha win 33 conference championships and coached great players such as Adrian Dantley, Kenny Carr, Sid Catlett, Jonny Austin, Keith Bogas and many more that have helped grow the sport at all levels.
For his notable career as a coach, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted him in 2000.
"He prepared his players for the game of life," said legendary CBS broadcaster James Brown. Brown played for Wootten before becoming a standout player at Harvard and starting his broadcasting career.
Twenty of Wootten's DeMatha players played professionally, and he was also one of the founders of the McDonald's All American Games. The annual McDonald's All American Game player of the year award is called the "Morgan Wootten Award."
Wootten was also a teacher to many coaches, using videos to spread his coaching philosophy. He's had multiple former players and coaches go on to coach in the college ranks, including Notre Dame's head basketball coach Mike Brey.
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