ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Herman Boone, the Virginia high school football coach who inspired the 2000 film "Remember the Titans,'' has died. He was 84.
Boone, portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie, guided T.C. Williams High School to a state championship while navigating the early days of desegregation.
Aly Khan Johnson, an assistant coach for Boone beginning in 1972, said the coach died Wednesday at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. He said Boone had cancer. Johnson said he had visited the coach regularly and planned to see him Wednesday when he learned of his death. Johnson said a funeral home operated by his wife is handling the arrangements, which are not complete.
"His daughter said the other night he asked for a clipboard. He started drawing plays," Johnson said.
The North Carolina-born Boone led undefeated T.C. Williams to the state championship in 1971. His team was recognized as a galvanizing factor in helping bring the city through school consolidation.
"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 earned two degrees from North Carolina Central University and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2004. Last March, the new basketball media room was named in his honor.
Much of "Remember the Titans" covers T.C. Williams' uphill battle to win the state championship over 15 all-white teams. The Titans had to overcome vindictive opponents, racist coaches and crooked 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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.