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Prince In Sports: A Minnesota Fan, Through & Through

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Fans were shocked to hear of music icon and Minnesota native Prince's death Thursday at the age of 57.

His passion for Minnesota Sports was well known. He was a true fan and followed their many ups and downs as he traveled the world and, of course, attended many games.

He didn't just sit on the sidelines, though -- his love of basketball was evident when he played in high school at Minneapolis Central, and at Bryant Junior High.

Prince Bryant Junior High
(credit: CBS)

"I really kind of chuckled, because you get him in a uniform and get him around a basketball, and it's really a different person," said Al Nuness, former head coach of the varsity team at Minneapolis Central High.

Nuness coached Prince, who was a sophomore on the team. If Prince's first love was music, his second was basketball.

"I think people don't realize how good a basketball player he was," Nuness said. "He was really known for his ability to break down a defense, because he was so quick. He wasn't a great shooter, but he could penetrate. He was very quick."

Prince stopped player after his sophomore year to focus on music, but he never stopped cheering as a fan of Minnesota's sports teams.

Prince sightings became frequent during the Timberwolves run to the Western Conference championship in 2004. In 2009 -- the year Brett Favre nearly led the Vikings to the Super Bowl -- Prince not only watched the games, but wrote a song about them.

He also loved the Minnesota Lynx. Coach Cheryl Reeve said it was an unforgettable experience when Prince invited the WNBA champions to a private concert last fall after the final game.

"He was very very engaging," she said. "There was a huge screen, that said 'Minnesota Lynx WNBA Champions 2015.' When he sang, he personalized some of the songs -- you know, sang 'Lynx' in the songs, using players' names, which was just really really cool. And so we were just mesmerized. And everyone was just kind of turning and going, 'This is so much fun! Can you believe this is happening?'"

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