The Duluth basketball community is mourning the death of longtime basketball coach and mentor Will Starks, the Duluth News Tribune reports.
Starks, 49, died early Thursday of complications from pneumonia while awaiting a heart transplant at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, his family told the newspaper.
Starks was an assistant basketball coach at Duluth East High School and also played a pivotal role in adult and youth leagues.
Starks had three children of his own, but so many others considered the longtime Duluth-area basketball coach a father figure: “It’s crazy how many people have said the words, ‘He was like a father to me,’” his son Dyami Starks said.
Dyami starred at Duluth East and now plays for Division I Bryant University.
"If we weren’t in the gym with him, he’d text us to see how we were doing, make sure we were staying out of trouble. You know, he was just always there," said Shaquille Coleman, who was coached by Starks and played at North Iowa Area Community College last season, according to Fox 21.
Ryan James, one of the top local prep and AAU reporters in Minnesota, tweeted his thoughts.
Duluth-area basketball standouts Anders and Bjorn Broman were products of Starks, who began coaching the two scoring machines in the seventh grade.
The brothers helped put Lakeview Christian Academy basketball on the map by scoring points in seemingly impossible fashion. Bjorn averaged more than 50 points this past season and set a Minnesota state record by scoring 74 points in a playoff game. He tweeted: