John Chaney used sport to fulfill a greater mission: giving hope to the disadvantaged

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The lion of North Broad Street – part philosopher, part humanitarian, part poet – leaves behind a towering legacy in Philadelphia that only begins on the basketball court

The city of Philadelphia is poorer today for the passing of John Chaney, the legendary Temple University basketball coach, champion of the disadvantaged and lion of North Broad Street who died on Friday just eight days after his 89th birthday.

Chaney transformed what was known primarily as a commuter school on the city’s rugged north side into an unlikely national power in the 80s and 90s, mostly by recruiting high school players from disadvantaged backgrounds who were overlooked, disregarded or unwanted by the sport’s traditional bluebloods. The Owls became a March Madness staple at his peak, reaching the NCAA tournament in 17 of 18 seasons, including five runs to the Elite Eight. He retired with 741 career wins, including 516 at Temple, earning induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame along the way.

Related: John Chaney, Temple's towering Hall of Fame basketball coach, dies aged 89

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