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Russell Ellington, 69; coached Harlem Globetrotters

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Russell Ellington, whose four-decade career coaching basketball included several tours with the Harlem Globetrotters, has died. He was 69.

He died Saturday from lung-cancer complications at St. Joseph's Hospital, said his wife, Betty Ellington.

Mr. Ellington had a record of 894-212 while coaching Savannah State College, Savannah Tech, and Morris Brown. He toured with the Globetrotters from 1984 to 1993.

He entered the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame this year. During his induction, he stepped lightly to the podium in Macon to the tune of "Sweet Georgia Brown," the Globetrotters' theme song.

"I've been blessed throughout my life, and then the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame blessed me again," Mr. Ellington said at the time.

He led his alma mater, Beach High School of Savannah, to a state basketball championship during the 1966-67 season - the first time the state playoffs were racially integrated in Georgia. The school is holding a memorial service Wednesday night.

Mr. Ellington came out of retirement last year to coach Beach to a 28-3 record and the state quarterfinals.

"You can't measure what a person like Coach Ellington meant to this community," said Tim Jordan, Savannah High School's basketball coach who played basketball and football for Mr. Ellington at Savannah State. "They don't make people like him any more."

A funeral is planned for Thursday in Savannah.

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