Herman Boone, the Virginia high school football coach portrayed by Denzel Washington in the 2000 film Remember the Titans, has died. Boone was 84.
According to Aly Khan Johnson, an assistant on Boone’s staff in 1972, during his final days he was still thinking about football.
“His daughter said the other night he asked for a clipboard,” Johnson said via the Associated Press. “He started drawing plays.”
Boone died at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. According to Johnson, a funeral home operated by his wife is handling the arrangements, which are not complete.
Boone was battling cancer, and Johnson had planned to see him Wednesday when he learned of his death.
“He touched many lives and hearts across the world. He was inspirational for so many people, including me as one of his former students,” Alexandria City superintendent of schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. told WUSA9. “Alexandria City Public Schools was fortunate to have him as an icon at such a critical time in our history. He will be dearly missed.”
Boone guided T.C. Williams High School to a state championship in 1971, navigating the early days of segregation.
In the 2000 movie where Boone was portrayed by Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, much of the focus was on the team’s uphill battle as the only desegregated school competing against all-white schools, and the racism and unfair treatment they received from vindictive opponents, racist coaches and referees.
“When I got there, you saw kids work together, hung out together,” Johnson said. “It was a brotherhood that you would see. As you know, athletics does something for a community, and it happened at the right time for that community.”