TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Former Florida State guard and FAMU DRS head girls basketball coach Ahmad Aliyy died Sunday. He was 73 years old. The legacy Aliyy leaves behind both as a player and a coach is one those that knew him are celebrating, and one they'll work to continue to uphold.
Aliyy was a trailblazer. A legend on the basketball court.
"He had to be brave," said Ericka Cromartie, who succeeded Aliyy as head coach of the Baby Lady Rattlers. "He had to go against the grain to get things done."
Aliyy, who went by Skip Young in college, was one of the first Black athletes at Florida State, playing for the Seminoles for three seasons, and inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2006.
"Coming from up north, coming down south, the way things were down south, he just told us it wasn't easy and how hard he had to work, and the trials and tribulations he went through," said La'Karis Salter, who played for Aliyy. "I think that's why it was like, we see why you work us the way you do."
"It was remarkable for him to endure that and take that learning lesson, and use it in his coaching style," added Vince Parkey, who coached with Aliyy.
It's coaching where Aliyy's legacy will live on.
"Coach from Miami Christian had two shiny rings, and coach Aliyy said hey coach, I like your rings," said James Brown, who coached with Aliyy. "I'm going to get me a couple of those."
He did. In 11 seasons as head coach, Aliyy led FAMU DRS to seven final fours, and won three state titles.
"When you go to different places, and you see the orange and green of FAMU DRS, the first thing they think about is the girls basketball program," said Cromartie. "That's because of him."
"We had our minds made up as kids and him as coach, we were going to be known, we were going to make our mark," said Salter. "We made a pact to each other we were going to win championships, and it started with him."
Championships, and for Aliyy, changing lives, for everyone around him.
"He was like a big brother to me," said Brown. "He took me under his wing, and brought me into his family. The warmth and the fun we had, that's what I'll miss about him."
"It was more than just basketball, it was about molding, shaping, well rounded young women," said Parkey.
That's where his impact is felt the most.
"He was the first coach to believe in me, the first coach to give me an opportunity," said Salter. "For me, that's life changing."
"Coach Aliyy was more than just a Hall of Famer at FSU," said Parkey. "He was a Hall of Famer in all aspects of life."
Aliyy's life will be celebrated Saturday at 2:00 at the FAMU DRS gym.