Herman Boone, the high school football coach portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie “Remember the Titans,” has died at the age of 84. The booster club for T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, where he coached, announced the news on Twitter.
“It is with great sadness that we share the sad news of the passing of former Head Football Coach Herman Boone who lead the Titans to the State Championship in 1971,” the group wrote. Boone had been ill with cancer and died at his home in Alexandria, according to the Associated Press.
Boone was named head coach at the school in 1971, the first year the city’s high schools were integrated. Boone, who was black, teamed up with white assistant Bill Yoast to lead the team to an undefeated record and the state title, despite racial tensions that existed. That team's success was often credited with helping to unite the city during an uncertain time.
Yoast died in May at 94.
"We were as different as night and day. But he and I found a way to talk to each other and trust each other. In the end, he was the best friend I ever had,” Boone told ACPS in May.
The story of that 1971 team was immortalized in the 2000 film "Remember the Titans," in which Washington portrayed Boone.
Boone left his mark on the football program, as he sought not only to win football games, but mold students into adults.
“He didn’t need to say anything. He just looked at you and that look said it all," Wayne Sanders, a running back on that 1971 championship team, told Alexandria City Public Schools. "There was no denial in what he was saying. He meant what he said and he said what he meant.”
"He was there to teach, to lead, to guide and prepare young men to go out into the world and do great things,” he added.
“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 Public Schools was fortunate to have him as an icon at such a critical time in our history. He will be dearly missed,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. told ACPS.