KNOX COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - The Lynn Camp girls' basketball coach has died after battling kidney cancer.
The Knox County School District said Coach Richard Jones died Wednesday morning. Jones was a longtime educator as well as a coach at Lynn Camp Schools.
We first learned of Jones' battle with cancer last month when interviewing the Lady Wildcats for their Roundball Preview. In those interviews, a few of the Lady Wildcats said that the team dedicated this season to Coach Jones, saying his fight was their fight.
"It's been super hard but you can't lay down and give up, you have to keep going," said Jada Rogers, a senior guard.
"Whenever he told us that he had cancer, he told us that he was still going to be a part of the team, he was going to be fighting for us," said Makenzie Grant, a senior forward. "We'll fight for him and we'll get all of his accomplishments and our goals."
"To his family, I extend my condolences on the loss of a husband, father and great man. Coach Jones was the face of Lynn Camp Schools in many ways, proudly supporting the Wildcats both athletically and academically," said Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles. "His reach extended beyond the school walls and into the community. Coach Jones will be greatly missed by all."
Les Dixon covers sports in the 13th region and got to know Jones over the past 22 years. Dixon says Jones should be remembered for putting Lynn Camp on the map.
"His biggest accomplishments had to be winning the three 51st district championships", said Les Dixon, who writes for the Times-Tribune. "Back in 2008 was the school's first ever girls' district championship."
When Jones became an assistant coach at Lynn Camp, Gerald Foley was the head basketball coach at the school.
"He was a student of Cumberland College when he helped me in 82-83", said Foley, who is a former coach and athletic director.
Foley says Jones spent his life not only building up the program but the kids too.
"Good ole country boy. He had a great personality. Everybody liked him", said Foley. "He was really energetic. He loved coaching. He loved being around the kids. He dedicated his whole life to helping those students at Lynn Camp."
Les Dixon says he will always remember the positive outlook on life Jones always seemed to maintain.
"It didn't matter if his team lost by 50 points or if his team won by 50 points, he didn't mind to talk and promote his student-athletes", said Dixon. "He always found something positive out of a loss or a win. There was always a positive."
Jones was also a teacher. Those who taught alongside him tell us he would go out of his way to help the kids with things like driving them to jobs or job interviews or even helping pay electric bills for student's families.
"I had heard a lot of stories where he has helped a lot of people, a lot of student-athletes, went out of his way on a lot of things", said Dixon. "I never heard it from him. One thing about coach Jones, he was very private. He never took credit for anything. It was not about him, and he let you know that it was not about him. And that's one the of the special things about coach Jones."
Funeral arrangements will be held at the Lynn Camp High School gymnasium. The visitation will be Sunday from 6-9 p.m. The funeral will be Monday at 2 p.m.
Instead of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to the Coach Richard Jones Memorial Fund.
Jones' death falls on the heels of the school losing another teacher and coach. A little more than two months ago, Brian Justice died in a crash on his way to work. Justice taught at the Knox Learning Academy, helping those on the verge of dropping out. He also helped coach football.