By CINDY CROSBY
If you ever had the opportunity to get to know Coach Maurice Simmons or be coached by him, you likely know how much the man loved his hats. In fact, chances are his hat collection was one of the best around. And not only did he have great taste in hats, he knew how to mold and wear them to perfection.
Outside of his love of hats was his love for the game of basketball, along with many other sports, and his gift of working and growing student-athletes and youth.
Maurice Nigel Simmons, 41, of Clinton, passed Friday June 26 at Laurens Community Hospital. As of press time, funeral arrangements were incomplete and will be announced later by Westside Funeral Home of Tabor City.
Prior to his move upstate, Simmons was an assistant basketball coach at USC Salkehatchie, served on the coaching staff at Colleton County High School for a number of sports and led the Colleton Prep Basketball Program to its most-successful season in recent history during 2018-19 (5-14, 5-10).
According to Simmons’ social media account, he was currently working at Whitten Center in Clinton. In a letter posted June 25 on the social media account of Whitten Center Friends from Randy Davis, facility administrator of Whidden Center, and addressed to the Whitten Center Consumers and Personnel Whitten Center Parents’ Club, 17 consumers had tested positive for COVID-19, in addition to some members of the workforce.
“The Colleton Prep family was saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Simmons,” said Jill Burttram, head of school for Colleton Prep. “Coach Mo, as the boys called him, inspired the players to not only play better basketball but to believe in the themselves and to ‘trust the process.’ Our students’ lives were definitely touched by Coach Simmons as seen in his passion for working with young people on and off the court.”
One of Simmons’ closest friends, former Lady Cougar head basketball coach, Perry Smalls, was in contact with Simmons last week. “Mo and I talked often,” said Smalls. “He called me Monday June 22 and said he was not feeling well and had been tested for COVID and had been admitted to the hospital. I spoke with him again on Wednesday June 24 and he told me he was not doing well and reminded me he loved me and to tell everyone he loved them. I did not hear from him Thursday, so I called him Friday morning and his phone went to voicemail. This is just devastating and his loss hurts.”
According to the Westside Funeral Home, the Simmons’ family will not be receiving any visitors, but prayers and phone calls are welcomed.