Sports

Hours after learning of his dad’s death, Duke assistant helps coach his team to a win

Duke co-defensive coordinator Matt Guerrieri learned of his father’s death hours before the Blue Devils’ game at Baylor.
Duke co-defensive coordinator Matt Guerrieri learned of his father’s death hours before the Blue Devils’ game at Baylor. Duke Photography

Duke co-defensive coordinator Matt Guerrieri coached Saturday’s 40-27 win at Baylor in the midst of a personal tragedy.

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Guerrieri learned that his father, Dr. James Guerrieri, had died at age 60 following a long battle with cancer.

Guerrieri kept the news to himself, coaching the game from his usual place in the coach’s box upstairs as he called the defensive plays in the Duke win.

“Jim Guerrieri raised an exceptional son,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday. “Matt worked through that football game. I didn’t know. We found out after the ball game. Our hearts go out to the Guerrieri family.”

Last week, Guerrieri learned his father was gravely ill. On Tuesday, Cutcliffe insisted Guerrieri return home to the Cleveland area to see his dad. Guerrieri left after practice before rejoining the team in Waco, Texas, on Thursday night.

Dr. Jim Guerrieri was an obstetrician-gynecologist who practiced in Mentor, Ohio. He delivered approximately 7,000 babies during his career, which covered more than 30 years.

“That’s a well-lived life.,” Cutcliffe said. “Jim Guerrieri was a lot of fun. I know they are going to miss him. We are going to miss him. . Matt Guerrieri is an exceptional person and an exceptional football coach. We are going to be with him though this.”

Matt Guerrieri, who turned 29 on Sunday, has returned to Ohio for his father’s services on Tuesday night. He plans to return to Durham later this week. The Blue Devils (3-0) play N.C. Central on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium.

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