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Summitt on ABC's 20/20 Friday
Vicki Baugh, Robin Roberts, Cierra Burdick and Taber Spani

Vicki Baugh, Robin Roberts, Cierra Burdick and Taber Spani

Nov. 2, 2011


On August 23, 2011, University of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball coach Pat Summitt announced her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's Type.

The winningest coach in college basketball history shared that she had been to the Mayo Clinic and the doctor's there encouraged her to continue coaching.

"I've been honest and shared my health concerns with you and now we'll move forward to the business at hand...coaching a great group of Lady Vols," Summitt said.

Just as practice was starting in early October, Summitt decided to tape an exclusive interview with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts which will air this Fri., Nov. 4 on ABC News' "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET.

Summitt told Roberts that she has no regrets about going public with her disease.

"Initially I was like, you know, `How am I gonna do this?" she said. "I just said, `Gotta do it.'"

She drew a lesson, she said, from the late President Ronald Reagan, who also struggled with Alzheimer's.

"I was working out, and ... they had the Ronald Reagan story on. And I was sitting there, looking at it, and they were telling his story. And, you know, first he did not come clean as to what [he] really had," she said. "So I sat there and watched it that day, and I remember I had tears coming down my eyes, and I said, `Well, that could be me.'"

The Reagan connection didn't end there: Former first lady Nancy Reagan sent Summitt a letter of support.

"She said, you know, I heard about your diagnosis of dementia, and I just wanted to reach out to you and just tell you, you know, that it's going to be OK," Summitt said.

Summitt said she wrote back to Reagan, thanking her.

"It just meant the world to me that she reached out," she said. "I just got the chills."

While in Knoxville, Roberts interviewed Summitt along with her son Tyler. Also sitting for interviews were the Lady Vol assistant coaches (Holly Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Mickie DeMoss) and UT players (Vicki Baugh, Taber Spani and Cierra Burdick).

SEE MORE FROM ABC AND 20/20

SLIDESHOW: Pat Summitt: From Tow-Headed Tot to Women's Basketball Powerhouse. Winningest coach in college basketball history once milked cows on family farm. » Click to view

BLOG: Pat Summitt: 20 Career Highlights and Surprises. » Click to read

STORY: Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: Learn More, Get Help. » Click to read

VIDEO: Pat Summitt: 'I Can't Be Someone Else' Pat Summitt talks to GMA in 2005 about her aggressive coaching style. » Click to watch

VIDEO: Pat Summitt: Person of the Week » Click to watch


 

 

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