Legendary Fort Worth basketball coach Robert Hughes dies at age 96

The legendary Fort Worth coach who has won more boys high school basketball games than any other coach in the country has passed away.

Coach Robert Hughes died at the age of 96.

He began his coaching career at I.M. Terrell High School in Fort Worth in 1963, leading teams to three state titles in five years.

After the school was shut down because of desegregation, he moved to Fort Worth ISD’s Dunbar High School. There he won two more state titles and countless games before retiring in 2005.

Charles Hickman first met Hughes when he enrolled as a freshman at Dunbar.

He was surprised to learn the well-known coach was not only a leader of the varsity basketball team, but the freshmen team as well.

"He didn’t trust anybody with his freshmen," recalled Hickman. "It’s Coach Rambo and myself but i’m coaching the freshmen, along with varsity, because they need to be endoctrined into the Dunbar way."

Hickman got a text that Coach Hughes had passed away.

He says Coach Hughes was a father figure to him and so many other, especially his players, who were predominantly African-American young men.

"Even in his classrooms he made sure that, because we all looked alike, we were going to be educated, and we were going to have discipline in our lives, so we won’t go out and make mistakes," Hickman said.

Hickman not only played for Coach Hughes, but a chance visit to the gym after his college graduation opened another door for their relationship.

"After the workout, we sat and talked, just kind of catching up. He asked me, what are you doing?" Hickman remembered. "I said, Coach, nothing. I’m looking for a job. He said, you just graduated, right? I was like yes. He said, well, I need a coach!"

Hickman was Hughes' assistant coach at Dunbar from 2000 to 2004.

Another milestone memory was the year Coach Hughes was tapped to coach the prestigious McDonald's All-American high school game.

"I’m like what, are you serious? He’s like, yeah, yeah, keep quiet. I don’t want anybody to hear. So we were laughing, and he says, but here’s the deal. They said they’re only sending two plane tickets," Hickman said.

Hickman was shocked at how Coach Hughes refused the terms of the deal, unless Hickman was included as a third coach.

"I have a former player that’s been with me for a couple years with my program. I’m not choosing between them. If you can’t bring both, I’m not going. He said, coach, your ticket is on my desk. So the McDonald’s All-American committee sent three total tickets because Coach Hughes was not having it any other way," he said.

Hickman still has the jersey he wore for Coach Hughes as a player.

Hughes won a total of 1,333 games over four decades, making him the winningest boys' high school basketball coach in the country.

He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.

Hughes leaves behind three adult children. His son, Robert Hughes Jr., took over as the coach at Dunbar after his father’s retirement.