Tony Hanson, 63, who was part of the Tees Valley Mohawks for two decades sadly passed away at the weekend.
The former professional player, who starred in the sport in the USA and across Europe, led the Teesside club through their glory years as they were crowned champions for five successive years.
Steve Butler, chairman at the club, posted an emotional tribute on Facebook, describing Mr Hanson as a "role model to so many people".
"Sadly Tony Hanson passed away at the weekend... he was a true gentleman, inspiration, coach, leader, friend, family and a role model to so many people, he impacted the lives of hundreds and with his great smile had them wrapped on every word he said."
"Everyone who came in contact with Tony knew fell in love with his charm, character and passion, not only for basketball but in life.
"He will be deeply missed - RIP COACH."
In 2015, Mr Hanson was honoured at Middlesbrough Town Hall where he was presented with a Mayor’s Award at a special ceremony.
Following a spell with New Orleans Jazz in 1977, Tony played professional basketball in Italy, France, Northern Ireland and England.
The sport eventually led him to the Tees Valley Mohawks, where he became head coach during the very successful years 2000 to 2010, with the Mohawks being crowned England Basketball national champions five years in succession.
After retiring from playing, Tony set up Hoop Dreams Social Enterprise, putting his degree in special education to use in co-ordinating a community-based sport and educational initiative to help young people with educational problems, using basketball as a vehicle to address teenage health and community issues.
His charitable work also led to the award of an MBE in 2007 in recognition of his contribution to sport and community work on Teesside.
Stockton Basketball Club also took to social media to pay tribute to him, posting:
"We lost a legend this weekend. He may have coached you or had some kind of impact on your life."
"He wasn’t involved in the club personally but he did play in charity games for us in past years. He’s the main reason some of us in the club play basketball."
The club added that a minute's silence will be held on Wednesday, November 28, at the Grangefield Academy in Stockton at 7.40pm in his memory.
Article originally posted on Teesside Live.
21 Oct 2020