Entertainment

James 'Radio' Kennedy, the inspiration behind the Cuba Gooding Jr. hit Radio, has died at 73


James ‘Radio’ Kennedy, the inspiration behind the Cuba Gooding Jr. hit Radio, has died at the age of 73

James ‘Radio’ Kennedy, the inspiration behind the 2003 tearjerker Radio, has passed away at 73.

His death was announced by longtime supporter and high school football coach Harold Jones on Sunday.

The South Carolina coach told TMZ: ‘He was just a fine man. We all loved him. We will miss him incredibly.’

RIP: James 'Radio' Kennedy, the inspiration behind the 2003 film Radio, has passed away at 73

RIP: James ‘Radio’ Kennedy, the inspiration behind the 2003 film Radio, has passed away at 73

Kennedy, who was intellectually disabled, inspired legions of people with his unshakable spirit. 

He attended Anderson, South Carolina’s T.L. Hanna High School as an unofficial 11th grader since 1965, where be became a fixture at local football games.

James rose to national prominence with a 1996 Sports Illustrated story about how he inspired his small town with his unwavering positivity and resilience.

The story would go on to be the basis for the Cuba Gooding Jr./Ed Harris film.

Inspiring: James rose to national prominence with a 1996 Sports Illustrated story about how he inspired his small town by his unwavering positivity and resilience. The story would go on to be the basis for the Cuba Gooding Jr./Ed Harris film, above

Inspiring: James rose to national prominence with a 1996 Sports Illustrated story about how he inspired his small town by his unwavering positivity and resilience. The story would go on to be the basis for the Cuba Gooding Jr./Ed Harris film, above

On screen and off: Above Radio is seen with Cuba in 2003

On screen and off: Above Radio is seen with Cuba in 2003

The local icon was inducted into T.L. Hanna Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016 and still frequented the local games up until the time of his passing.

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James was dubbed Radio because of the trusty transistor radio that accompanied him nearly everywhere through the years.

In addition to his love for football Radio had a huge heart, often dedicating himself to volunteering and charity.

Several years ago he and Jones pitched in after learning the Salvation Army was struggling to get donations ahead of the holidays.

The pair braved the winter chill to raise funds for the organization outside a Sam’s Club, where they were able to get hundreds of donations. 

Health issues: Kennedy had been in and out of the hospital for complications related to diabetes according to NBC's South Carolina affiliate WYFF. He was recently moved into hospice care

Health issues: Kennedy had been in and out of the hospital for complications related to diabetes according to NBC’s South Carolina affiliate WYFF. He was recently moved into hospice care

Kennedy had been in and out of the hospital for complications related to diabetes according to NBC’s South Carolina affiliate WYFF. He was recently moved into hospice care.

Though his life he struggled with various health issues, including pancreatitis, diabetes and kidney issues.

A spokesperson for Anderson School District 5 shared a heartfelt tribute about Radio on Sunday.

‘Radio was the heart and soul of T.L. Hanna for over 50 years, and the impact he made in our community can’t be overstated,” Kyle Newton said. ‘He will be missed, but his legacy will live on in the countless lives he touched.’



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