Courtney Coker has learned much about her father in the five days since he died.
The most startling aspect was that she and her brother were not the only children claimed by their late father — George Coker Jr. — who suffered a heart attack in his sleep early Thursday morning. He was 45.
“I’ve been going through his phone,” she said, “and every student that is listed in his phone book is listed as ‘daughter’ or ‘son’ and then their name. His students weren’t his students, they were his daughters and sons.”
Coker taught and coached at Detroit Osborn for the last 18 years. He was the school’s football coach the last four seasons.
The Knights never made the state playoffs in Coker’s tenure, but that didn’t define his importance to the school.
“He was a good coach,” Detroit Western coach Andre Harlan said. “He did everything the right way. He was an awesome guy. I looked at him as more of a better person than he was a coach. Coaching was something he did to attract kids. He was a great person.”
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Coker replaced Robert Hunt as Osborn’s football coach, and over the years they were at the school Hunt grew to admire Coker’s devotion to the students.
“He was just a great human being — period,” Hunt said. “He cared about what he did with the young people. He always wanted to see them strive to be better human beings. He was just a great human being.”
Although he was best known for coaching football, Coker had also coached baseball, swimming, track and tennis at various times at Osborn.
“When it comes to high school and Little League, you are more so mentoring young people — to bring them up to make good decisions and good choice in life,” Hunt said. “Coach Coker was all about that.”
A native of Monroeville, Ala., Coker would take his Osborn players and students to his church twice a month and then have them over for dinner.
“The purpose of that whole ministry was to get them exposed to God’s word, which he was ministering and instilling into his students,” Courtney said. “That was a very important aspect of his life over the last four years.
“I’ve heard a lot from his student-athletes and other students that he went by the three C’s: Christ, condition and character. Everybody that I talked to said he was more than a teacher and a coach. He was a lifesaver. They said if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t have gone to college or graduated from high school.”
He is survived by his wife, Kenia, daughter Courtney, 22, and son, George III, 3.
Visitation will be at the Cole Funeral Home, 16100 Schaefer Hwy in Detroit, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday and between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday. The funeral service will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Pilgrim Travelers Missionary Baptist Church, 2945 John Daly St. in Inkster.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.