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Basketball Hall of Famer, Fort Worth icon Robert Hughes dies at 96

Fort Worth ISD basketball icon Robert Hughes dies at age 96
Fort Worth ISD basketball icon Robert Hughes dies at age 96 02:23

FORT WORTH – Robert Hughes, the winningest high school boys basketball coach in history, has died. He was 96.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 enshrinee Robert Hughes poses for a portrait at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8, 2017 in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

From 1958 to 1973, Hughes was the head coach of Terrell High School, an all-Black high school in Fort Worth. 

"He was just a man of wisdom. Listening to him talk was something I will never forget," said Derrick Daniels, a former player.  

Daniels went on to coach basketball himself, at a high school in Houston and says, he was inspired by Coach Hughes. 

"He played a huge role in my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without him," Daniels said. 

Fort Worth ISD superintendent Angelica M. Ramsey echoed Hughes' commitment to his athletes extended beyond the court.

"His influence extended far beyond basketball, instilling values of respect, hard work, and discipline in generations of young men," Ramsey said. "Today, we honor the legacy of Coach Hughes, whose impact on Fort Worth ISD and high school basketball nationwide will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the countless lives he touched throughout his illustrious career."

When Terrell High School shut down in 1973, he continued coaching at Dunbar High School for 32 years. While there, Hughes led the team to two state championships and 30 consecutive playoff appearances. He retired in 2005 after coaching his 47th season.

"Coach Hughes' impact extended far beyond the court, shaping countless lives as a coach, mentor, father figure, and pillar of our community," said Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker. "As the winningest coach in high school basketball history, Coach Hughes not only leaves behind an incredible legacy in the sport of basketball and at Dunbar High School but across the entire Fort Worth community."

Hughes has a career record of 1,333-264 and led his teams to five state championships and 35 district titles. 

He was named National High School Coach of the Year in 2003, was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame as well as the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.

Many landmarks around Fort Worth have Hughes' name on it, including a FWISD basketball court, a street, a basketball tournament and a housing development dubbed "Hughes House."

"Coach Hughes turned boys into men by instilling in them the ability to set goals and reach them while learning from obstacles," said Gyna M. Bivens, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Fort Worth Council District 5. "The love he shared with high school basketball players was extended to their families making him a change agent. I am so very happy he got to see the start of the construction of Hughes House before he died. I  will always visualize Coach taking his daily walk along the access road of 820, having breakfast at Dixie House and dinner at Nana's Kitchen." 

Kenneth Lyons, a Trimble Tech High School alumnus, has a unique perspective of Coach Hughes - not one of winning but losing against him while playing for a rival team.

"He was just a man among men and a great leader," Lyons said. 

Lyons believes it goes to show that no matter who you ask, you'll only hear words of respect around the name Robert Hughes.

"He was a person of character that never wavered in the way that he saw things," said Demetric Shaw, another former player.      

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