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Family, friends, and students are mourning a passionate and spirited athletics coach in Georgia who family members said died last month as a result of the coronavirus.
Ron Hill, 63, was a coach at the Mount Vernon School in Fulton County, Georgia, where he mentored boys and girls in various team sports, including track and field, football, and basketball.
"Ron Hill was a long-time, beloved teacher and coach at The Mount Vernon School. His passing is an incredible loss for our community, impacting so many of us," Anne Katz, the chief community development officer of the school, told BuzzFeed News in a statement.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to this grieving family as well as the entire Mount Vernon community mourning this loss."
According to family members who spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hill died on March 24 of complications due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Hill, who suffered from a number of conditions including asthma, first started feeling sick at the beginning of March, a friend told AJC, adding that Hill visited an urgent care clinic where he was advised he may have pneumonia and that he should see a doctor.
A few days later, on March 14, he asked his friend to call 911, saying that he could not breathe. He was hospitalized and later moved to the intensive care unit.
According to his oldest child, Kyndria Hill, Hill texted his sister saying he felt scared.
“I’m going to fight but my body’s tired," Kyndria Hill told AJC he wrote in the text message.
His daughter said that the family wasn't able to see Hill in person while he was in the hospital. Due to medical protocols, they could only see him through a pane of glass
"He wasn’t even aware we were there," Kyndria Hill 41, said.
"If you don’t need to be out, don’t go out,” she urged people. "There are people alone in the hospital and their family can’t get to them. People need to think about that."
Over the past few weeks, the community around coach Hill and the Mount Vernon School have come together to mourn his death. Social media posts have celebrated his life and legacy.
Teachers, students, and faculty have posted tributes on Facebook with the hashtag #SaluteCoachHill to remember him as a playful and passionate man, whether he was coaching or not.
"He would fight tigers for you all ... he believed in you ... he loved you all deeply," Courtney Thornton wrote on Facebook.
Others, like Mount Vernon alum Britt Whistine, who said she had been mentored by Hill, shared a slideshow of their goofy memories together.
"I'm grateful for the care and confidence he instilled in me during crucial times in my life. I genuinely believe I would not be who I am today without the model of leadership and integrity he showed me," she wrote.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to his family, friends, and those who shared tributes.