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UTEP basketball legend Willie Cager dies

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- UTEP Basketball announced the death of UTEP men's basketball player and 1966 national champion Willie Cager.

Cager was 81 years at the time of his death.

He made history by being a member of the Texas Western team that defeated Kentucky 72-65 and won the 1966 NCAA Championship. The team made history by being the first ever all-Black starting five in the national championship.

This feat inspired 'Glory Road', the hit Disney movie.

Cager scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in the national championship game against Kentucky.

His death falls on the 57th anniversary of when Texas Western won the national championship.

He graduated from Texas Western College now the University of Texas at El Paso.

After his playing career for UTEP, Cager made El Paso his home.

He dedicated his life to children. Cager was once the coordinator for the Ysleta Independent School District's After School Basketball Program.

Cager also launched the Willie Cager Foundation that teaches at-risk children education and leadership.

Back in 2022, the Miner Athletic Club announced The Willie Cager Endowed Basketball Scholarship.

This scholarship ensures the legacy of the 1966 national champion, Cager, will live on through UTEP student-athletes forever.

The scholarship will used for the benefit of the Intercollegiate Men’s Basketball Program at the University.

Cager appeared in 77 contests for the Miners from 1964-68, averaging 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds while playing under Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins.

He ran for mayor of El Paso in 2017.

Cager is survived by two sons and one daughter.

He is the 5th TWC 1966 player to pass.

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