SOCASTEE, S.C. (WBTW) — Socastee High School basketball coach Derrick Hilton, who died Sunday after a battle with cancer, is being remembered for his contributions to his community.

Hilton graduated from Socastee High School in 1998 and took over coaching duties at the school in 2016. He also worked as a guidance counselor at the school.

He received a stage 4 renal cancer diagnosis in October.

Hilton played basketball for four years at Coker University in Hartsville, where his coach, Dan Schmotzer, said it was nothing but smiles whenever Hilton was around.

“Yeah, I’m just going to miss every time we saw each other,” he said.

Schmotzer, who recruited Hilton to play at Coker, said he has many fond memories of his time around Hilton.

“He was here for an alumni game a couple [of] years ago,” Schmotzer said. “I told him if he made a half-court shot, I would get him a pair of shoes. The of a gun made the half-court shot, and I really didn’t want to get him those shoes, but I had to.” 

Jamie Barfield, the lead pastor at Palmetto Pointe Church said he and Hilton were friends since high school. He said Hilton was always filled with joy.

“About a week ago, he texted me and said he had gotten some bad news … and said, ‘hey, I want to talk,'” Barfield said. “You could tell that there was some fear in his voice about the future and what was going to happen in life.” 

On Easter Sunday, Barfield said he called Hilton on stage, prayed for him and surprised him with a check for more than $30,000 to help cover his medical bills. 

During Hilton’s battle with cancer, the slogan ‘Braves don’t fight alone’ became the motto around Socastee High School and the community. Students and faculty members sold bracelets, t-shirts and baked goods to raise money. There was also a GoFundMe page set up.

Funeral arrangements for Hilton are pending.

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Jackie LiBrizzi is a multimedia journalist at News13. Jackie is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, and was raised in Piedmont, South Carolina. Jackie joined the News13 team in June 2023 after she graduated as a student-athlete from the University of South Carolina in May 2023. Follow Jackie on X, formerly Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and read more of her work here.