Obama at Thompson's memorial: 'His imprint endures'
Mitchell Layton / Getty Images Sport / Getty

A virtual memorial service for late Hall of Fame basketball coach John Thompson was held Saturday, and Barack Obama was among the speakers.

The former president said Thompson was a leader and teacher during his 27-year run as head coach at Georgetown.

"Under his tenure, raw talent arrived at Georgetown - (Patrick) Ewing, (Dikembe) Mutombo, (Alonzo) Mourning, (Allen) Iverson, so many others," Obama said. "Coach Thompson molded that raw talent into something better, by showing them not just new skills, but new possibilities for themselves, and for their lives."

Obama referred to the famous story of Thompson confronting Washington, D.C. drug dealer Rayful Edmond in the late 1980s.

"When a drug kingpin was spending too much time around the team, coach Thompson, all 6-foot-10 of him, put his finger right in his face and told him to stay away from his kids," he said.

Obama also noted Thompson's two-game boycott in 1989 to protest the NCAA's proposition 42, which the coach felt was biased against underprivileged student-athletes.

"It's astonishing in hindsight, and it helped change the NCAA's stance," Obama said.

"We haven’t banished injustice from our society, far from it," he continued. "But we are living through a golden age of young Black activism. We're living through a golden of activism on the basketball court, too. Coach Thompson didn't like it when people called him a pioneer, but there’s no doubt his example has echoed down the generations. There's no doubt his imprint endures."

Thompson died on Aug. 30 at the age of 78. He won two NBA championships as a player with the Boston Celtics in the 1960s before coaching the Hoyas' NCAA powerhouse teams in the '80s and '90s, and winning the national championship in 1984.

Obama at Thompson's memorial: 'His imprint endures'
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