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Coronavirus Victims: American Football Wide Receiver Orlando McDaniel

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Back in college, Orlando McDaniel was a Division I track star who's speed got him drafted to the Denver Broncos.

CHANG: As his daughter Alexis tells it...

ALEXIS MCDANIEL: My dad was hardcore on the track.

CHANG: McDaniel recently died of the coronavirus. He was 59 years old. But his legacy is one of dedicated mentorship and coaching through the North Texas Cheetahs Track Club.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

His daughter Deon (ph) says McDaniel founded the Cheetahs to lift up his community.

DEON MCDANIEL: Track has always been his heart. And he started the Cheetahs to give back in a way that he knew how to and to bring in girls of all ages so that they had discipline and direction and guidance to succeed in life.

CHANG: And the girls who ran on McDaniel's team say their coach was like a father figure to them, too.

MORGAN BURKS-MAGEE: Orlando was different from other coaches because he was so dedicated with his athletes. And he was just so invested in our personal lives as well as far as, like, grades, like, making sure we were on top of that. He understood that everything that we did outside of track affected track, so he was concerned - like, OK, if they have jobs, how often are they working? Are they having family issues? Like, do they need somebody to talk to?

CIERRA WASH: He'll show up to school events, help pay for stuff if we needed it.

ARIUS WILLIAMS: That was the, like, greatest thing to ever have, you know, for some girls that didn't have a father in their life most of the time. He believed in me, and he saw potential that I didn't see in myself.

JASMINE MOORE: He really did change my life.

CHANG: That was Morgan Burks-Magee, Cierra Wash, Arius Williams and Jasmine Moore remembering coach Orlando McDaniel.

KELLY: He died March 27 in Dallas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.