Sunday morning, residents of South Carolina awoke to the news that James "Radio" Kennedy had passed away at the age of 73. The man who inspired the 2003 Cuba Gooding Jr. movie had reportedly suffered from pancreatitis, diabetes, and various kidney issues. The community was saddened to hear of this loss, and one of the T.L. Hanna High School football players has since posted a tribute.
Sunday morning, Juan Velarde of T.L. Hanna wrote about what Kennedy meant to him on Twitter. The man reportedly made a major impact on Velarde, as well as with many other players on the football team. This was made very evident with the message on social media.
"3 years ago I couldn’t believe I was going to the same High School as you dear Radio," Velarde wrote. "And now I can proudly say that I shared games with you. You are always going to be the legend and the king of this city. RIP RADIO. In our hearts forever."
3 years ago I couldn’t believe I was going to the same High School as you dear Radio. And now I can proudly say that I shared games with you. You are always going to be the legend and the king of this city. RIP RADIO. In our hearts forever. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/JV6NnreIWH— Juan Velarde (@JuanVel83748910) December 15, 2019
Kennedy was relatively unknown to many outside of South Carolina prior to the 2003 film, but Gooding's portrayal of him brought the story national attention. This made many curious about Kennedy, as well as the origin of his nickname. According to a former principal at T.L. Hanna, Kennedy was given the nickname of Radio by the coaches and players of the football team based on the transistor radio that he kept with him.
He could have been viewed as a distraction after he began mimicking the coach's signals and yelling out commands, but that was not how the story proceeded. The former principal in Sheila Hilton said that the team actually embraced Kennedy and made him one of their own.
This was proven true on Sunday morning with the outpouring of love and support for Kennedy. As Velarde showed with his tribute on Twitter, the man called Radio had a significant impact on the community, as well as the local high school.
Kennedy ultimately earned his high school diploma in his mid-20s and remained active with the high school for the remainder of his life.