James Robert
James Robert "Radio" Kennedy hugs T.L. Hanna teacher Vinnie Dill after he arrived at a screening of the movie "Radio," based on his lief, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2003, in Anderson, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

James ‘Radio’ Kennedy passes away, family says

James “Radio” Kennedy, a prominent figure of a South Carolina high school football program for the last several decades, has died. He was 75-years-old.

Radio’s niece and caregiver, Jackie Kennedy, said he was taken to the hospital on Saturday afternoon and passed away Sunday morning.

The 2003 movie, “Radio,” told audiences of the beloved friendship between the deceased and a former T.L. Hanna High football coach, Harold Jones. In the film, it showed how Radio got his nickname by walking around with a transistor radio to his ear and was treated like family by the football team.

Former T.L. Hanna High Principal Sheila Hilton wrote a few years ago, “At that time, he was a teenager, with a transistor radio seemingly attached to his ear, who could barely speak and had never learned to read or write. He was nicknamed Radio by the coaches and players.

“He became a fixture at football practices, standing passively and watching, until one day when he began to mimic the coaches’ signals and tried his hand at yelling out commands,” Hilton said. “At that point, he could have been labeled a distraction and sent away. But he was not. The coaches embraced him, and as coaches came and went, someone would always take over in caring for him.”

The T.L. Hanna Athletic Hall of Fame inducted Radio in 2016.

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