Sports world mourns death of John Thompson, but if not for fate, he would’ve likely died in Sept. 11 attacks

Hall of Fame coach passed away Monday at age 78, but luck allowed him to live 19 years longer

Former Georgetown Hoyas head coach John Thompson Jr. looks on before a college basketball game between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Butler Bulldogs at the Capital One Arena on February 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton)
Former Georgetown Hoyas head coach John Thompson Jr. looks on before a college basketball game between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Butler Bulldogs at the Capital One Arena on February 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton) (Getty Images)

On Monday, the sports world rightfully mourned the death of John Thompson, a Hall of Fame basketball coach who led Georgetown to the 1984 NCAA title, becoming the first black coach to win an NCAA championship.

Thompson was also a prominent voice for civil and social rights issues during his coaching career.

But while the world is sad over Thompson’s passing, he at least had 19 more years of living after nearly dying during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Thompson was set to be on American Airlines Flight 77 from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles in order to make an in-studio appearance on Jim Rome’s radio show, according to ESPN.

But Rome’s producer, Danny Schwartz, asked that he fly out a day later to accommodate the show’s schedule.

Thompson told Schwartz that wouldn’t work and he was unhappy at the suggestion, but after Schwartz insisted, Thompson changed his flight.

On Sept. 11, Thompson ended up feeling the impact of Flight 77 when it was hijacked by terrorists and crashed at the Pentagon, which was close to Thompson’s home.

Ten years after that day, Thompson went on Rome’s radio show to reminisce, starting with a message Thompson’s assistant relayed to him.


About the Author: