STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Lee Hill, Jr. remembers his father giving out Statesboro High School’s address hundreds of times.
“The address, 10 Lester Road, used to flow off his tongue so smoothly when coaches used to ask for the address to send a recruiting letter,” he laughs. “It was just automatic: 10 Lester Road.”
But Lester Road won’t be known as Lester Road much longer.
Soon, it’ll be named after the man who used to give that address out so smoothly.
“What he meant to this community was that he was a mentor, father figure, and friend to thousands of young men and women within our community,” said Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar.
Statesboro’s city council voted to approve the renaming of Lester Road to Coach Lee Hill Boulevard during Tuesday night’s meeting.
The winningest active coach in Georgia High School basketball, Hill passed away Saturday at 68 years old. His son tells WTOC Hill died from complications of COVID-19, which hospitalized the coach last month.
In his four-plus decades leading the Blue Devils, Hill led the program to 877 wins, a state title, and four other trips to at least the Final Four.
“I can see him smiling now. He would think this is such an honor” Hill, Jr. says. “He dedicated four decades to that school. He’d just be proud.”
McCollar proposed the resolution to rename the road. That resolution passed 3-2 during Tuesday night’s council meeting, with McCollar casting the tie breaker vote. The two dissenting votes, Shari Barr and John Riggs, both tell WTOC their no votes were not because of lack of support for the renaming, but the timing of the manner.
McCollar says he didn’t want to waste time before honoring the man he calls a giant in the community.
“Timing is everything. What I did not want to do is stretch it out over a longer period of time,” McCollar says. “I wanted to encapsulate this moment so we can cement his legacy in our community.”
Former Blue Devil All-American Keith LeGree is just one of Hill’s players happy to see the honor. He says Hill taught him more off the court than he did on it.
“He represented Statesboro, Statesboro High, his family, everybody that’s from Statesboro in the best way that you possibly can,” said LeGree, now an assistant coach at the University of Detroit Mercy.
Mayor McCollar says the process to make the name change official will take about 30 days, but adds that process has already begun.
Hill, Jr. and McCollar say they’re happy to know that all students at Statesboro High will now get a daily reminder of Hill and what he taught.
“Someone that didn’t know him can learn about him and how proud he was of Statesboro,” Hill, Jr. says. “That’s a very fitting way for them to learn who he is.”
“When you drive down Coach Lee Hill Boulevard, it means it’s an honor to be a Blue Devil,” McCollar says. “But attached to that honor is the responsibility to be excellent in everything that you do.”
McCollar says he hopes to have a socially distanced ceremony unveiling the new street signs with the family when the change is made official.