In Memory

Robert Hughes1928-2024Class of 2017


Slight-of-frame, soft-spoken by nature, and an unwitting revolutionary, Robert Hughes spent his life enriching the lives of others. Hughes coached high school basketball in Fort Worth, Texas for nearly 50 years, producing five state championships, 35 district titles, and 12 regional championships. In all, he won 1,333 games, the national record for boys basketball.

Robert Hughes passed away on June 12, 2024. He was 96.

John Doleva, President & CEO of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, remarked:

“Robert Hughes shaped the lives of young people for at least three generations. He opened doors that were previously closed to Black students-athletes. He served as a role model, endeared himself to the city of Fort Worth, and along the way managed to win a record number of basketball games at the high school level.”

Born on May 15, 1928 in Bristow, Oklahoma, Robert Hughes began his coaching career at I.M. Terrell High School, an all-Black school in Fort Worth. The segregated school lacked the proper facilities and adequate funding, but Hughes enjoyed tremendous success, especially when the odds were stacked against him. A Hughes-led team would be a fast, full-court, high-flying airborne brigade. Speed, Speed, and More Speed was his coaching mantra, but his mantra for life was leading by example through discipline, hard work, faith, respect, and love.

In the early days, the accomplishments of his I.M. Terrell teams were overlooked by the local media. Newspapers rarely covered sports in schools where the student population was all or mostly Black. No matter to Hughes. He understood the power of doing the right thing the right way. He quietly spoke truth to power and over time the local news outlets began to take notice. The teams Hughes coached at Terrell, and later at P.L. Dunbar, were hard to ignore. The uptempo style fueled interest, and ensured wins. On average, Hughes’s teams won 28 games per year.

Robert Hughes spent his entire career in the Fort Worth, Texas area. He loved the community he served. He was never bitter about the obstacles he faced due to segregation, Jim Crow, or inequality. He simply worked to level the playing field for everyone.

Robert Hughes was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame with the Class of 2017.