CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "King" Curtis Price was a lot of things to a lot of people.
He was a civic leader.
He was a multi-talented musician.
He was one of Kanawha County's most celebrated athletes.
Today, after losing a battle to cancer on Thursday in Charleston at age 63, the "King" is gone.
He certainly, though, won't soon be forgotten.
"They called him the King," said lifelong friend Levi Phillips, "because he was the most respected person I've ever known."
Of late, Price had been the Charleston Job Corps Center director after serving many years as a top-level executive in the organization.
But it was his ability to play basketball that caught the attention of the nation.
Price was a standout on Charleston High teams, including the 1968 state championship team, and was a preseason Street & Smith's first-team All-America selection for coach Lou Romano. He was recruited by Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Kansas and others and received a letter from UCLA's John Wooden, but chose to sign with West Virginia University and coach Bucky Waters, who then left for Duke.
Price was the leader of a CHS team considered one of the state's best units ever. Price, Phillips, Larry "Deacon" Harris, Skip Mason and Sonny Burls formed the nucleus of the Mountain Lions team, which compiled a 72-3 record over three years and once had a 48-game winning streak.
Romano, who also died of cancer, had a special place in his heart for Price, according to Romano's son, Anthony.
"He was like a son to my dad," Anthony Romano said. "He was just an A-1 fellow, a leader. He was a coach on the floor before that term came out. He was a coach.
"[That CHS team] was what basketball is all about. And as a person, Curt was the best. You won't find one person who will say anything bad about him. My father was very close to him. Curt was very special to him."
As a basketball player, Price stood out from the Donnelly Street playground to Thomas Jefferson Junior High to CHS. According to close friend Andy Richardson, he also stood out in other ways.
"This was the 1960s, right after integration," Richardson said. "Charleston had an all-black starting lineup. It was rough at times for them, but Curt made sure everyone stayed calm. There were never technical fouls.
"They played with dignity and class, and Curt was the one who made sure of it."
Known as an incredible leaper, Price suffered a severe knee injury as a senior that hindered the rest of his basketball career. In his three seasons at WVU (freshmen weren't eligible then), playing for Sonny Moran, Price averaged 7.7 points, including a 10-point average his senior season. Phillips and Harris also went to WVU, but the latter was killed in an auto accident.