TOUGALOO, Miss. (WJTV)- This Hometown Hero is one of the winningest basketball coaches in Mississippi history. But to many, he is more than a coach.
Coach Thomas Billups is one of the most popular basketball coaches in our state. He has won numerous accolades and has coached players who ended up playing in the NBA.
“That is what I always wanted to do in coaching,” said Billups, “send kids to the NBA or overseas,”
Billups started coaching in 1976. He has coached for Vicksburg High School, Lanier High School, Oak Grove High School and Blackburn Middle School to name a few. He currently coaches at Tougaloo College. Many of his former students, like Judah Jameson, remember him fondly.
“He has touched so many different people in many different areas in life… way beyond basketball,” said Jameson.
Jameson was his student back in 2008. He said Billups helped him become a man.
“You know the little simple things from tucking your shirt in, to pulling your pants up, to walking with your head up, and chest held high,”
Alex McCaskill was Billup’s former track student. McCaskill said he never had a father figure growing up until he met Billups. He said Billups continued to be there for him even after high school.
“I had a business that I was getting ready to start,” said McCaskill, “I ended up getting kicked out of the place I was living in and I did not have the money to put down as a deposit to start something. I called Coach Billups and he met with me the next morning and gave me the money to put down and have a place to stay.”
With Billups’ help, McCaskill was able to start his business.
“My business has flourished,” said McCaskill, “I want to thank God for Billups. You really do not meet people like that in your life.”
Jameson said he is so grateful to have met Billups.
“I know he has many accolades that go behind his name but I felt the name “Hometown Hero” was much deserving and I am very proud to call him my coach,” said Jameson.
Coach Billups is happy to know he has impacted people’s lives.
“I feel good,” said Billups, “It lets me know that I gave something to someone, somewhere.”