While she knows that she will always be tied to the incident, legendary Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer holds no ill-will toward former radio host Don Imus, who died last week after a battle with lung disease.
She’s more than moved on.
“The Rutgers family has found peace through the years, and we are proud of our response to hateful words spoken years ago,” Stringer said in a statement, via the Associated Press. “We are proud of the positive change it has brought about and the lesson that came with it — women and African Americans should be treated with respect, not only in the media, but in all walks of life. It is our prayer that Don finds eternal peace in his passing and we wish his family strength.”
Imus — a longtime disc jockey who was once named one of Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans — was fired from both his radio show and MSNBC in 2007 for describing Stringer and the Knights as “nappy headed hos” after they fell to Tennessee in the NCAA championship game that year.
His comments quickly drew widespread condemnation, including from then-Sen. Barack Obama, who was in the midst of his ultimately successful presidential campaign.
“He didn’t just cross the line,” Obama said in 2007, via the New York Times. “He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America.”
Imus later apologized, calling his comments “completely inappropriate … thoughtless and stupid.” He met with both Stringer and her team in person, too.
During that meeting, Stringer said Imus told her that he “didn’t come to save his job, but to save his soul.”
“To say that it didn’t hurt isn’t true,” Stringer said, via the New York Post. “But if you allow those hurtful things to consume you, they own you. We’ve forgiven him and moved on.
“He genuinely felt, I think, remorse for the words he said. Everybody makes mistakes and says things that they shouldn’t say. I think that our players learned a lot from that, and I’m proud of them and our basketball team.”
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