12/20/2014

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Sports

Longtime Huskies coach Don James honored at memorial

Longtime Huskies coach Don James honored at memorial

SEATTLE -  A public memorial for former University of Washington football coach Don James was held Sunday, as tributes to the legendary coach continue to popup throughout the city.

It's been an emotional week for Husky fans, following the loss of coach James to complications from pancreatic cancer last Sunday.

To some, Don James was more than a coach and more than a Husky. Sunday evening, the community gathered at Alaska Airlines Arena to remember the life of a man who touched lives on and off the field.

Many former players and coaches attended the memorial. Speakers included members of his family, close friends, and former players and coaches including Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who flew to Seattle after the Tigers' loss on Saturday night to South Carolina.

There was also a video tribute from Alabama coach Nick Saban, who played and worked for James at Kent State.

Former Kent State and Washington athletic director Mike Lude said there needed to be no monument to James because "He lives on forever in our hearts and minds."

James continues to be honored as fans mourn the coach who led the Huskies to a 1991 Rose Bowl win.

A flag with James' initial was hoisted atop the Space Needle Saturday, and was lit purple Friday night. Officials say it will continue to wave the flag and have a purple glow until Sunday evening.

University of Washington fans flew in from across the country to attend the Husky Homecoming game, which was arguably the most elaborate remembrance.

The most emotional moment of the night came when James' family took the field as honorary captains for the coin toss, greeted by a loud standing ovation. Fans remained seated at halftime watching a video tribute to the coach and performance from the Washington band.

The Washington band lowered its on-field flag to half-mast during the national anthem and both California and Washington wore helmet decals honoring the coach.

Husky football players paid tribute to former coach Don James by thumping the school James dominated as the Huskies coach. James went 12-2 in his career against California and the current batch of Huskies (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) honored the former with a flurry of big plays to blow out the Golden Bears.

Coach James, 80, died at home last Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. James had two surgical procedures in September  for what was called a gastro-intestinal issue, and was enduring chemotherapy treatment for a malignant tumor on his pancreas before he passed.

James was 178-76-3 as a head coach at Kent State and Washington, counting three forfeit victories with the Huskies. After going 25-19-1 in four seasons at Kent State, he was 153-57-2 at Washington from 1975-92 and led the school to a six-pack of Rose Bowl appearances.

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