FORT WORTH -- The man with the scowling face who roamed courtside at so many high school basketball games was back in the school's hallways Friday afternoon.
But on this day, Robert Hughes Sr., legendary basketball coach at I.M. Terrell and Dunbar high schools, was smiling, even laughing.
It was Robert Hughes Sr. Day, an occasion that organizers hoped would connect current and future Dunbar students with the history of their school and the legacy of the man who coached for 47 years and collected 1,333 victories, still a record for a boys basketball coach.
Hughes, 84, was head basketball coach at Dunbar from 1973 until he retired in 2005.
He coached at Terrell before that. He led teams to five state basketball titles -- three at Terrell and at Dunbar in 1993 and 2003.
Speakers for the event included Star-Telegram vice president and columnist Bob Ray Sanders and WFAA/Channel 8 sportscaster Dale Hansen. The event included recognition from Hughes' college alma mater, Texas Southern University.
The theme was consistent and simple: Hughes left his mark not only on Dunbar High School but also on people throughout the world.
In a pre-ceremony visit, a handful of well-wishers got a glimpse of personal moments.
"I can't lose my composure here," he said after recounting the title of a favorite book he's read in retirement.
"The guys will laugh at me."
The book is Thomas Powers' The Killing of Crazy Horse. Hughes picked it up in Indiana while visiting granddaughter Gabriel Hughes, who had leukemia.
"Her request was that I be there at the hospital 24 hours a day," Hughes said.
"I would be there and eat and watch, you know. But I can't read it, can't finish it. A $27 book, still sitting there."
Gabriel's leukemia is in remission, Hughes said.
While some chattered in coachspeak about specific plays or moments in Hughes' coaching career, his wife, Jacquelyne Hughes, was more grounded.
Hughes always left the familiar scowl at the gym, she said.
"All of that aggressiveness never comes home," she said.
"If he's upset, had a loss, a rough game, I never heard any of it."
Hughes had plenty to say on the state of not just basketball but also education in general.
"So as to clarify, I'm not running for any political office so I don't have to be polite," Hughes said.
"I mean, I'll tell it like it is."
Their son, Robert Hughes Jr., is the current Dunbar coach.
"Robert Jr. doesn't have the players that I had. And he doesn't have the parents either," Hughes said. "They represent a new generation that hasn't been held accountable for discipline.
"I hear a lot of them say, 'My baby is my best friend.' And I say, 'No, your baby is your baby, and baby needs a mama and a daddy.'"
Students face greater distractions, he said.
"Everybody wants to be a highlight of the day on TV," he said.
"Back in the day, when you went to dinner on the church grounds, the only ice cream they had was vanilla. Here now, you have tutti-frutti with pecans and Brazil nuts on the top, every flavor of the rainbow.
"What I always wanted from players was vanilla. Now, you have today's players that need to go behind the back, between the legs and give you a look-away. But mainly, they don't like to work."
Jacquelyne Hughes said Robert Hughes Sr. is "a great father and husband."
"First of all, he was at home," she said.
"He was very understanding, very laid-back and helped me raise our kids."
And all while helping raise 47 years' worth of disciplined athletes and well-grounded students.
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