By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A beloved high school football coach who was battling cancer passed away on Wednesday morning and is sorely missed by colleagues, athletes and other loved ones.

51-year-old Coach Jim Bonds of St. Francis High School in La Cañada, coached at the school for 20 years.

“We had moments obviously of hope over the past few years but when we got the news this morning it was devastating,” said St. Francis Principal Tom Moran. “A lot of times in media, the principal and the head football coach are feuding, and honestly, I never had a moment of disagreement with Jimmy.”

Former players say Coach Jim Bonds was a special coach, and as he expressed in interviews, Bonds viewed the job in the same positive light.

“You know I think it’s a one in a million job. That’s the way I look at it, you know the head football coach of St. Francis. It’s a one in a million place,” Bonds previously said.

Bonds was a former quarterback at UCLA, and his skill was unmatched, but it was his reputation for kindness and hard work that reverberated most with those who knew him best.

“Me not having a father figure around, he was the guy that stepped into that position. He always put others before himself, he was always willing to you know give out the extra hand and just a great leader,” said former football player Dietrich Riley.

Even people who didn’t know him deeply, but merely got to exchange a few words with him, say he left an impact.

“He had a really deep connection with the school and all the players, but as you can see now through people all over the place if he encountered someone, it was an impactful encounter,” said Kevin Maloof, a former football player.

Bonds had supporters near and far, including Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts, who held up Bonds’ name during the Stand Up To Cancer tribute in Game 3 of the World Series.

Former athletes who Bonds mentored say they wish they were able to spend some time with him during his final days, which they were unable to do because of coronavirus precautions.

Instead, on Wednesday night they held a virtual prayer service in his honor.

Funeral arrangements are still underway for Coach Bonds.

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