‘He means so much to Socastee’: High school basketball coach honored with celebration of life memorial

Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 7:42 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A community came together on the hardwood to celebrate the life and legacy of a beloved coach.

Socastee Head Basketball Coach Derrick Hilton lost his battle with cancer just last week.

Monday, hundreds of family, friends, and students filled the Socastee High School gymnasium to honor him.

Words of disbelief shared by a man who called Derrick Hilton his best friend for over three decades as he reflected on their time spent together.

“When I pick up that phone and ready to press send on a text or when I’m ready to call him,” said Marcel Tremble.

Hilton became both the guidance counselor and head boys basketball coach at Socastee High School in 2017.

Now a community more like family all came together celebrating his life. “He would walk in the room light the place up and he never judged him he treated everyone the same and just loved on everybody the same,” said Tremble. While many people shed tears, others shared smiles as they reflected on memories with Hilton.

During his memorial, those who knew him shared how in a world of division Hilton was known for not only his kindness but being the glue that kept everyone together. “He means so much to Socastee,” said Jeremy Rich, Principal of Socastee High School. “He’s got the title ‘Mr. Socastee’ and in that truly is. The first time I met Derrick, the thing that stands out the most to me is just his infectious smile,” said Rich. His students said his presence impacted thousands of lives.

Maddox Gifford, a recent Socastee graduate, said he’ll always remember being able to talk to Hilton when he needed him most. “He was a mentor that you could look up to,” said Gifford.

“He was there anytime he could, if you needed problems like just personal problems he was there to text or call or just walk into his office and skip class, he was just call you out and you could talk to him for an hour, he didn’t care he was he was always there for you.”

Friends and family said Hilton will never be forgotten, and although he may lost his battle to cancer, The Socastee Community will let his legacy live on.

“To keep fighting whatever it is, not just cancer, if someone’s having a bad day fight for them, and I think that’s what he wants us to remember,” said Tremble.