Winston Davis, a boys basketball coach in Hillsborough County for nearly three decades and former standout player for Blake and Plant high schools, died Tuesday following a prolonged battle with brain cancer. He was 60.
Davis underwent an extensive surgery in November of 2010 to remove a brain tumor and less than a month later, he was back coaching Blake for its season opener. He continued radiation and chemotherapy treatments that season and led the Yellow Jackets to the 2011 Class 4A state semifinals, where they fell to Leesburg and finished the season 28-3.
''There was nothing pretentious about him -- no ego, nothing flamboyant -- he was just a great, great person,'' said Tampa Prep boys basketball coach Joe Fenlon, who is entering his 30th year of coaching for the Terrapins. ''I had the opportunity to coach against him and the honor of coaching his son (Winston Jr.) for four years and I cherish all of that because of who he was as a human being.''
As a prep player himself, Davis was a star at Blake in the late 1960s and a former county scoring champion. When court-ordered segregation began, he wound up playing his senior year at Plant and helped the Panthers reach the 1971 playoffs.
Between 1968 and 1971, Davis scored 1,362 points, which still ranks among the county's top 50 all-time scoring leaders. Besides coaching at Blake, Davis also coached several years at East Bay High.
Blake football coach Darryl Gordon said an announcement was made Tuesday during school about the passing ofDavis, who retired from teaching in June.
''It was a sad, sad moment when we heard that today,'' Gordon said. ''He meant a lot to the school and the community.''
Fenlon said in the 20 or so years he has hosted a holiday basketball tournament at Tampa Prep, Davis attended every one of them. He calls Davis one of the community's true ''rock stars'' but said Davis never acted like one.
''When he walked into a gym, everyone knew him and everyone loved and respected who he was,'' Fenlon said. ''He touched so many lives but was unaffected by how important he was.
"Every word he spoke meant something. He was just a good soul.''