Lewis Thorpe, famed North Lawndale basketball coach, remembered

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Lewis Thorpe, famed North Lawndale Prep basketball coach, unexpectedly died last week.

Thorpe, who won the 2008 IHSA 2A championship, was a huge figure not only at the school but in his Chicago community. There weren't too many basketball players in the area who didn't know Coach Thorpe.

Faculty, coaches, students and his son talked to ABC7 about Thorpe's legacy.

"Coach, and people like coach, are what make this a special place and what has made this a special place for so long," said Jason Patterson, a North Lawndale teacher. "I remember when I first came in, coach taught me how to be comfortable in this place and taught me how to look at the kids and love the kids and he's just really special in that way."

Thorpe had an impact throughout the Chicago area sports community, colleagues said.

"Everybody knows who Lewis Thorpe is. Coach Thorp is an icon. He's a legend," said Carlos Toliver, North Lawndale interim head coach.

Replacing him will be difficult.

"All I can do is do what he taught me. I can never fulfill coach's shoes. I can never try. It's going to take me and my entire team, including the administration. Everybody in this community, inside these four walls, to keep his vision going forward. I'm not trying to be Coach Thorpe, I can't. It's just a pleasure to even be here with him. I just thank God to carry on Coach Thorpe's vision," Toliver said.

Coach Thorpe had been there for about a decade.

"He built a legacy. He influenced a lot of people. He's just a great coach. It just feels empty with him not being here at school but I mean were going to get through it though," said Jalen Thorpe, Lewis Thorpe's son.

"I feel like the season is going to be weird without him being here because he's been with us through all our four years but I feel like we have to stay together as a team and continue what he got going on," said athlete Daquan Tusker.
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