BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It’s been a tough 24 hours for Birmingham and the sport of basketball.
Wenonah girls basketball coach Emanuel Bell passed away Thursday after battling stage 4 lung cancer for the past two and a half years.
“Whew, what can you say?” said Wenonah football coach Ronald Cheatham. “For 20 years, you know, he’s been a good person to work with, always laughing.”
From five state championships to 19 winning seasons to receiving the Frank “Pig” House Award from the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the list of Coach Emanuel “Tubb” Bell’s achievements at Wenonah goes on, but it’s how he inspired people off the court that he’ll be remembered the most.
“He was a father figure to me. Sorry. I had my own personal battles health wise, and he was always there, always there,” said former Wenonah basketball player Courtney Billingsley.
Coach Bell passed away at the age of 64. It’s his faith tough, that lives on in those he’s touched.
“Tubbs said, ‘Coach, I don’t have any worries, I have faith and not fear.’ That’s the one cliché that we can live by and bring on better people," Cheatham added.
Birmingham City Schools had a crisis team on Wenonah’s campus Friday for students and especially for the girls basketball team, who will play in their first game without Coach Bell on Monday night in the area tournament at Pleasant Grove.
“My advice to them is to stand tall. Coach Bell stood tall so stand tall and fight,” Billingsley said.
“He’s Wenonah. He’s for the kids, good, bad, he’s for Wenonah and we are truly going to miss him," said Cheatham.
Coach Bell’s funeral will be held Saturday, February 9th. Stay with WBRC for more details on funeral arrangements.