If anyone bled purple and gold, it was Coach Lambo.
Former University of Washington head coach Jim Lambright, who was a player, assistant coach and head coach for the team, has passed away at the age of 77.
His death was confirmed by his family on Sunday, although his cause of death has not been disclosed.
"Coach Lambright was a legend at the UW, particularly when it came to playing the kind of physical, aggressive defense that his teams were known for,” UW head football coach Jimmy Lake said in a statement. “He was always supportive of the program that he loved so much. His impact on Husky football will not be forgotten."
Lambright took the helm as Washington head coach in 1993 when Don James retired. During his tenure, he helped lead the Huskies to a Pac-10 Championship in 1995 and a 44-25-1 record as head coach. He was relieved of his head coaching duties in 1998.
He previously held the role as the school’s defensive coordinator from 1978 to 1992, where his juggernaut defense led Washington to a national championship in 1991, which the team shared with Miami. His official biography says Lambright “redefined defensive football at the University of Washington,” with his toughness on the sidelines. Under James and Lambright, the Huskies claimed six Pac-8 and Pac-10 titles.
As a player, Lambright earned All-Coast as a defensive end in 1964 and took home Washington’s Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational award, the school’s oldest and most prestigious individual award.
"I'm deeply saddened by the news of Coach Lambright's passing,” UW Director of Athletics Jennifer Cohen said in a statement. “Coach Lambright is synonymous with Husky football and he gave so much to this program both as a player and coach. My love for the University of Washington was sparked during Coach's tenure on our football staff and I'm grateful for the impact he had on so many. I'd like to extend heartfelt condolences to his family, former players, teammates and coaches."
Following the loss of Coach Lambo, former UW safety and Rip City Mornings co-host Nigel Burton, who played for the Huskies from 1996-1998, delivered this poignant message.
Coach Lambright changed the trajectory of my life by just giving me a chance. Once he told me he believed in me, it was game over. It wasn’t about the doubters. I wanted to prove Lambo right for taking the chance. I’m forever indebted. #RIPLambo.
More former players and friends spoke about the Huskies coach’s defensive prowess and determination to succeed.
Lambright is survived by his daughter Kris and son Eric; and grandchildren Caroline and Matt.