The world of wheelchair basketball is mourning the loss of a legend and pioneer of the sport, Armand “Tip” Thiboutot, who passed away yesterday at the age of 85 years old.
IWBF Gold Medal Triad Awardee, Armand “Tip” Thiboutot, PhD (pictured above on the right) was the Vice-President of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) between 1998 – 2002, following his six-year tenure as Chairman of the Technical Commission for IWBF (1992 until 1998).
Tip was introduced to wheelchair basketball in the mid-1960s after incurring a spinal cord injury while serving in the United States Army. He started his playing career with the New England Clippers in 1968 and founded the Boston Mustangs in 1972. Internationally, Tip was coach of the USA men’s team at the 1984 Stoke Mandeville Paralympic Games and led them to gold at the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games.
In addition to playing and coaching for more than 40 years, Tip was the Vice-President of NWBA for 15 years and was inducted into the NWBA Hall of Fame in 1993, whilst also influential in the development of wheelchair basketball both in the United States as well as the rest of the world from the late 1970s right up until his retirement in 2002. In recognition of his dedication to the sport, Tip received the IWBF Gold Medal Triad Award in 2002.
IWBF President, Ulf Mehrens, said,
“IWBF is deeply saddened to hear of Tip’s passing. We will always remember him for the passion, impact and influence he had on the sport. He was one of the early leaders and pioneers for our sport and set the foundations. A great advocate and promoter of the game of wheelchair basketball, we have no doubt his knowledge will be passed on and live through his legacy in the sport for years to come.
“Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to all of Tip’s family and friends at this difficult time. He will be truly missed by all of the wheelchair basketball community.”
Tip extended his influence with the publication of his writings in Sports ‘N’ Spokes and the IWBF’s Basketball News – both were widely read by the wheelchair sports community across the world. He was also responsible for editing the IWBF newsletter, publishing articles and issuing reports on technical matters dealing with coaching, player classification, rules, and organization of the sport.
Alongside Stan Labanowich, he also co-wrote the “Wheelchairs Can Jump” book, a fascinating and comprehensive guide to the history of wheelchair basketball.
IWBF’s first-ever president and close friend to Tip Thiboutot, Sir Philip Craven MBE, added:
“Tip Thiboutot – an absolute legend of the great sport of wheelchair basketball. Paul Bowes this morning (Monday 17 October) used some brilliant adjectives that perfectly described Tip, of being calm, I would add super educated, understanding, passionate and a caring man. All of that is so true but I can add another side of Tip, which is the grit and determination he possessed for doing the right thing. I know this because I was in the trenches on many occasions with my best, truest and most trusted friend.
“Tip does indeed leave an outstanding legacy of doing the right thing at all costs for the sake of the sport of wheelchair basketball and all the players that love this wonderful game. Positions in the trenches unfortunately still have to be occupied but I’m sure we will see existing and new replacements for Tip in the trenches but to replace Tip as a whole is impossible.
“I would like to send a very personal message to Patricia and daughter Anna and Michelle, just to say what a wonderful husband and father you all had, but you are great people in your own right, and you have the heritage and I have no doubt you will represent him. Jocelyne and I love Tip Thiboutot with all our hearts and that’s how it will remain.”
Rest in Peace Tip!