The obituary for Patricia Sue Head Summitt posted on her foundation’s website after she died Tuesday morning began with the words that the winningest coach in major college basketball history lived by: “You win in life with people.”

That Summitt lived by those words has been especially apparent over the last five years, since her diagnosis of “early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type” was made public. And it was well known in the sports world over the 38 seasons she coached the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team to eight national championships.

Her impact on individuals was so significant that when word came recently of her rapidly failing health, friends and former players gathered in Knoxville, Tenn., to be by her side and the hashtag #PrayForPat was trending on Twitter.

She saw her basketball players as more than athletes; she saw them as human beings. And she worked hard — with a “tough love” approach — to make them achieve all they could on the basketball court and in life. For starters, every one of the players on all of her teams graduated from college. That compares with some NCAA men’s teams in Division I that have graduation rates of less than 50 percent.

In 2011, after Summitt’s diagnosis was made public, one of her former players, Michelle Marciniak, wrote about her coach for

Has this woman impacted my life? I never knew how much until I was thrown into the jaws of the real life of business and adult relationships. Pat prepared me for the “tough” part of my life. I have developed a relentless resilience and my own measure for success.

She was admired by the sportswriters who covered her. Paul Finebaum of ESPN first met Summitt when he was the sports editor of the student newspaper at the University of Tennessee. He said today:

Sometimes it’s a cliche to say that the true measure of a coach isn’t only the titles that he or she has won but the effect they had on another person’s life. From that standpoint, no coach has ever stood taller than Pat Summitt. I have never spoken to a former player of Pat’s of for that matter anyone with whom she has worked or come in contact with that didn’t cherish their time together and walked away deeply affected by the relationship.

Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post, who co-authored three books with Summitt, wrote in The Washington Post:

Behind all that statuesque eminence was a woman of high mischief and a love of cocktails, who once agreed that the best word to describe her was “subversive.” Pat married so many contradictory qualities in one slenderized figure. She had majesty and humility. Baffling naivete and genius. She was demanding and gentle. She never stayed still, and as a basketball coach was the single most discontented creature after a win that you ever saw. Winning wasn’t good enough: As soon as things were going well, Pat had to change it all up, create a new edge.

Over the last five years and over her life, Summitt has been the embodiment of the advice she wrote to a freshman player before her first basketball game in 1982:

There’s no telling what will turn up. There’s no telling how you’ll do. You might be a hero. Or you might be absolutely nothing.

There’s just no telling. Too much depends on chance, on how the ball bounces.

I’m not talking about the game. I’m talking about life. But it’s life that the game is all about. Just as I said, every game is life, and life is a game. A serious one. Dead serious. But here’s what you do with serious things. You do your best. You take what comes.

You take what comes and you run with it.

She truly has left a legacy.

RELATED: After a Cruel Diagnosis, Pat Summitt Teaches Another Lesson in How to Live

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