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James “Radio” Kennedy (2019), inspiration for the film “Radio”

Getty Images / Craig Jones

Cuba Gooding Jr. starred as Kennedy in the 2003 hit movie

James “Radio” Kennedy was the mentally disabled man who inspired the 2003 hit movie “Radio.” He was an inspirational figure for the T.L. Hanna High School football team in Anderson, South Carolina. Kennedy was nicknamed “Radio” when he started showing up at the team’s football practices holding a transistor radio to his head. T.L. Hanna’s football coach Harold Jones formed a bond with Kennedy and he became an inspirational figure on the sidelines at the team’s games for many years. The town embraced Kennedy and he took classes at the high school though he could not read or write and he was given permanent status as a junior at the school so he would not have to graduate and leave.

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Died: Sunday, December 15, 2019 (Who else died on December 15?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 73, according to T.L. Hanna High School.


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What they said about him: "Everyone has a story to tell, some of them priceless — his eating a cooler full of sandwiches that had been made for the team and stored safely on the bus; his pass-kick-and-throw half-time shows; his permanent status as a junior, with no threat of graduation; and his astounding ability to name the mascot of any team in the state. The stories could fill the pages of a lengthy book, each showing the child-like innocence and loving heart that existed within him." —Former T.L. Hanna High School principal Sheila Hilton

“Some people are here to teach kindness. We love you Radio. RIP” —The T.L. Hanna cheerleader squad

Full obituary: New York Times

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