Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning shared his reaction to Pat Summitt’s death on SportsCenter on Tuesday morning after the announcement that the legendary women’s basketball coach had died after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Pat meant a great deal to me,” Manning said. “It’s obviously a very sad day for the Tennessee family, sad day for everyone that ever came into contact with Pat Summitt and felt the impact that she had on them.
“Speaking for me, Pat was a great friend to me, a great resource, and even though I never played for her I always felt like she was kind of one of my coaches. I used to lean on her for advice. She was one of the people who I spoke with my junior year in college when I was deciding whether to turn pro or stay for my senior year, and she gave me some invaluable advice.”
Manning played for Tennessee from 1994 to ’97, during which time Summitt led the Lady Vols to three NCAA championships.
Manning maintained a close relationship with Summitt even after his time at Tennessee, and presented her with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs in 2012 after her early onset Alzheimer’s forced her retirement.
“The word icon and the word legend is probably used too much in today's sports society, but it is certainly appropriate when describing Pat Summitt,” Manning said. “That’s what she was. For those that knew her, I know I speak for all of them, when they say it was certainly an honor to call her a friend. I know that’s how I feel. Because she truly was the best.”