Dana Hertneky, News 9
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Beyond Coach Budke's family, probably those who are hit the hardest by his death are his present and former players. Many say he was family.
"It's very devastating to me because that's like my father to me, that's what I knew when he took me in his arms when I left high school," said Betty Lennox, one of Budke's former players.
It was as a young recruit at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas that Lennox became part of Coach Kurt Budke's family.
She credits him for all she has become: including a WNBA player for the Tulsa Shock.
"I have nothing but great, happy, enjoyable moments of him and still haven't really put it all together just yet," said Lennox.
It was at a Shock event Thursday that Lennox learned of the crash.
Friends say Budke could relate to what his players were going through on and off the court because he had been there. Back in the 80's the Kansas native played for Washburn University in Topeka.
Lennox says we lost more then just a great coach, but a great role model for women, a great father, and an awesome husband. All things she would tell him now if he could pick up that phone.
"Just tell him how much I love him and how much I appreciate everything he did for me because he didn't have to and he did," she said. "I love him with all my heart."
Lennox says she will dedicate the 2012 season to coach Budke.