S.C. high school legend James ‘Radio’ Kennedy dies, family confirms

James "Radio" Kennedy died early Sunday morning, his family said.
James "Radio" Kennedy died early Sunday morning, his family said.(WYFF)
Updated: Dec. 15, 2019 at 9:04 AM EST
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ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. (WYFF) - The man who became a fixture at football games at an Upstate high school for decades and a subject of a feature film has died.

T.L. Hanna High School legend James “Radio” Kennedy died early Sunday morning, his niece and caregiver, Jackie Kennedy, said. Radio, 73, was taken to Hospice of the Upstate in Anderson County Saturday afternoon, she said.

Radio has been associated with the T.L. Hanna football program for decades after showing up on the field as a teenager in the mid-1960s.

Former T.L. Hanna High Principal Sheila Hilton wrote a few years ago, “At that time, he was a teenager, with a transistor radio seemingly attached to his ear, who could barely speak and had never learned to read or write. He was nicknamed Radio by the coaches and players. He became a fixture at football practices, standing passively and watching, until one day when he began to mimic the coaches’ signals and tried his hand at yelling out commands. At that point, he could have been labeled a distraction and sent away. But he was not. The coaches embraced him, and as coaches came and went, someone would always take over in caring for him."

In 1964, former T.L. Hanna football coach Harold Jones befriended Radio.

The story of Radio's friendship with Jones was the subject of the film "Radio" in 2003.

Radio was previously hospitalized in early December, according to Jones. He said Radio was treated for pancreatitis, along with ongoing diabetes and kidney issues.

Radio was inducted into the T.L. Hanna Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

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