WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Beloved former City League basketball coach Ron Allen passed away at the age of 71 Thursday.

As a student-athlete and coach, Ron’s career was one of breaking barriers. He was the first Black basketball player at Southeast High School in Wichita and went on to play under the first Black coach of the University of Arizona basketball program.

While Allen was afforded many coaching opportunities throughout his life, he knew at heart Wichita would always be home and where he would forever want to make a difference.

“The biggest knocks against me that I’ve heard was I keep kids that other coaches don’t keep,” Ron said during a January 2021 interview with KSN News.

It was a rare gift that came naturally to the coach: helping each athlete he took under his wing discover their true potential.

“Everybody at the school might have not liked the kid, but he seen something in him, and you know, just having him, that kid around the program, even if he’s just the manager, it just saved his life,” A.J. Allen, Ron Allen’s son, said.

Ron led East High to two state championships—forever cementing his place as a coaching legend.

“Coach Allen was a gentleman’s gentleman, a competitor’s competitor—one of the most important figures in the history of the City League,” Wichita Heights Boys Basketball Coach Joe Auer said.

“His teams always played hard,” Kapaun Mt. Carmel Boys Basketball Head Coach Steven Eck said. “He was a great person to talk to, he’s easy to talk to, he always told me to smile more…everyone knew Coach Allen, and it’s a sad, sad day.”

Auer says Allen was a mentor to him and a man who always led by example.

“He always knew that we were part of something that had a long history that was much bigger than ourselves, and if I had a question, he was always there for me,” Auer said. “[I’m] forever indebted to the example he set.”

A.J. Allen says his father always put his family first and treated each of his players like his own sons.

“Everyone just loved him because he was just a ball of energy,” A.J. Allen said.

His own sons are now basketball coaches themselves, carrying on their father’s legacy.

“I was just blessed to be able to get the life lesson on the court and at home,” A.J. Allen said. “He’s in a better place, and he finished the ultimate game, and he won.”

Ron Allen won more than 300 games in his 20-year-long career as a coach. He was inducted into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.