Legendary FIU coach dies at 67 leaving legacy of inspiration

MIAMI, Fla. – At Florida International University, Marcos “Shakey” Rodriquez is remembered as the basketball coach with the biggest single-season record in university history. Rodriguez died at the age of 67 from a brain aneurysm on Thursday.

Before that, he was a powerhouse coach at Miami Senior High School, making it to six state finals during a seven-year stretch. He was with Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 27 years until he retired in 2012, coaching basketball at Miami Senior High and Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High.

At FIU, Rodriguez served as the Panthers head coach from 1995-2000. With Rodriguez at the helm of the FIU Panthers, the team posted a 79-66 record, including a program-best 21-8 mark during the 1997-98 campaign.

But for friends and colleagues who knew Rodriguez as a mentor, like Miami native and current men’s basketball head coach at the University of South Carolina, Frank Martin, he was more than a coach — he was an inspiration. They say his most important legacy wasn’t just the building of great basketball programs, but how he built up people, inspired them to excel and encouraged them to pay it forward.

“He believed in us and that is the greatest compliment any person can ever give someone else is that they believe in you,” Martin said.

Miami High’s Girls' Basketball Coach Sam Baumgarten said that Rodriguez was a lifeline for many.

" . . . For a lot of underprivileged  kids who came from little Havana or Overtown, he changed so many lives."

Martin said that the people he coached and taught would go into education because that’s what he was about. He would maked us think that we could aspire to be great and we just have to be fearless at working at it."

Baumgarten said he was also a great friend.

“If you needed him, he was always there for you. There is just not enough that you can say about ‘Shakey’ Rodriguez,” Baumgarten said.

Martin said that there were so many people who could credit their success to the coach. “In his lifetime he created an army of men that went out and found success in life.”

A statement from Florida International University from the current head coach, Jeremy Ballard, said that Rodriguez was “The Godfather of South Florida basketball and one of the best basketball coaches anywhere, at any level.”

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