Got the news this morning as I was headed out the door, and I am glad I already had my morning run in, cause when you get the final word, the ‘Race of Life’ is over…
‘Big Jim’ Modlin passed away very early this morning, at around 12:30am…Jim was in the Moses Cone Hospital after suffering a massive heart attack at his home on Monday evening, at 7:43pm….
Jim was a good person and good friend and he was always willing to go the extra mile to make the situation a better one in the end….The end was near and Jim has crossed the finish line and he will be in a much better place….
“Big Jim’ in many ways became an Urban Legend with his 6’8 stature and he was a big man, with a big heart and when you take that heart away, as is the case in a massive heart attack, it is very tough for the ‘Big Man’ to go on and as we mentioned earlier, Jim is now a better place….
Jim was one of the top/best basketball players to ever come out of Ragsdale High School and as he completed his high school work back in the late 1960’s, he took his game to East Carolina University…Jim had offers from Wake Forest and other larger schools, but he took his game to ECU and when he was a senior, he and the other two ECU Pirate Jims, Jim Gregory and Jim Fairly pulled of an NCAA basketball coup…All three Jims, Jim Modlin, Jim Gregroy and Jim Fairly all averaged a double-double, with double-digit scoring and double-digit rebounding….
The coach that used to be at High Point University/College(Tom Quinn) had landed at ECU and he took that Pirate team to places that they had never been before…(One of the best records in school history.)
ECU hosted the University of South Carolina in the Minges Coliseum and took the Gamecocks to the limit and the legend has it ‘Big Jim’ Modlin squared off with John Roche, Tom Ownens, Tom Riker and John Ribock on more than one occasion in that game….It got kind of ugly, but ‘Big Jim’ and his men prevailed against South Carolina…..With the tough-minded Tom Owens; Ribock, Roche and Riker were three of the biggest names to ever suit up for Frank McGuire and the South Carolina Gamecocks, but on this night, ‘Big Jim’ Modlin and his East Carolina Pirates were up to the task and they took what Ribock, Roche and Riker had to offer up and told them to bring some more, they were ready for the ACC in the Minges Coliseum….
Jim went on to play for one year in the American Basketball Association(ABA) for the Pittsburgh Pipers/Condors and then moved into the business world….Jim worked with ‘Big Ben’ Derrick and Rick Carter at the Fitness Today in the Quaker Village Shopping Center and later managed the Fitness Today on Randleman Road…Jim ran the Golds Gym on Battleground Avenue and then Golds was bought out and it became The Sportscenter Athletic Club and Jim remained with the Sammy Johnson-owned facility, until his passing….
Jim had been doing radio with us for the past 10 years, having started this part of his journey back in 2002…We hit up and down the highways and made many a stop along the way, doing high school football, basketball and even some high school baseball….Jim was also a great help with the Greensboro Grasshoppers games and in fact he did their very last game of the 2012 season, along side Ogi Overman, this past Friday night from NewBridge Bank Park….Many a game and Jim kept the road hot with his Green Ford Taurus and the end results were always good ones….Dennis White joined us in recent years on the high school broadcasts and I’m sure he would share our sentiments, in regards to ‘Big Jim’…….
I think the thing that I will remember most about Jim will be that ECU-South Carolina game, back in the early-70’s, at the Minges Coliseum in Greenville, N.C., when he and his fellow Pirates battled Roche, Ribock and Riker and ‘Big Jim’ and his men would not back down from the ‘Mighty Gamecocks’, who at that time were ranked in the Top Five in the Nation…..
A ‘Big Man’ with a ‘Big Heart’, that was ‘Big Jim’ Modlin and when you take that heart away from a ‘Big Man’, it is hard to carry on….Will say a closing prayer for Jim, his family, and his friends, but the thoughts of ‘Big Jim’ Modlin will be with us for many years to come….
‘Big Jim’ gave it his all and he was a ‘Big Man’ with a lot to give and I still like the thought of him making Roche, Ribock and Riker squirm that night down in Greenville…..
Here we are on Thursday September 20, 2012 and all we have left to say in closing is:
RIP ‘Big Jim’ Modlin, with this big man, it was one of the few times, when what we saw and heard of in the Legend, well friends this time, in the case of the Legend of ‘Big Jim’ Modlin, the Legend was REAL……