"How does a mountain disappear?" Three years after Pat Summitt's death

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It has been three years since the passing of legendary Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt, but her legacy thrives and shines in the light she left behind.

Cropped Photo: ZUMA Press / MGN

The Clarksville native passed away in on June 28, 2016 four years after announcing her diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease.

WVLT News' Sports Director Rick Russo sat down with sports writer, author and Lady Vols historian Maria Cornelius to talk about Summitt on the anniversary of her death.

"It's not getting any easier," Cornelius said as she talked about Summitt's passing. "The magnitude of her loss, for me, just amplifies every single year. I think a lot of people feel that way."

"She was a great friend and great person," she continued, "you know how funny she was. There are not that many head coaches at this level of success...who still joke with the media, who love the media, who welcome the media. She was a one of a kind, and Tennessee is fortunate to have had Pat, and it's so cruel that Tennessee lost her to this disease."

Cornelius talked about the side of Summitt that fans didn't get a chance to see. "They saw the Pat on the sideline, which is frightening...but she was a prankster. She loved to pull practical jokes and tell jokes."

Her personality and direction helped lead many Tennessee students to success, including Kelly Harper, one of Summitt's former players and now the head coach for the Lady Vols. Another is Kara Lawson, a former Lady Vol and now assistant coach for the Boston Celtics.

"Look at the players and young women she produced," Cornelius said. "Kara Lawson is going to be a trailblazer in my opinion, and that's exactly what Pat wanted her young ladies, her young Lady Vols to become: trailblazers and advocates for women."

The disease that took Summitt's life still has no cure, but what she left behind is a legacy that endures and helps many people, as the Pat Summitt Foundation continues to grow.

"It could be her biggest legacy," Cornelius said. "Her foundation, the Pat Summitt Foundation. If they are able to help lead research that finds a cure because this is a brutal disease."

You can learn more about the Pat Summitt Foundation here.

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