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Bill Walsh Loses His Battle With Leukemia

Hall of Fame football coach Bill Walsh lost his fight with leukemia on Monday, passing away at his home at the age of 75.

Nicknamed "The Genius", Walsh led the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl victories in the 1980s.

Walsh began his professional coaching career in 1966 as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders after coaching at the college level at the University of California in Berkeley and Stanford. Walsh went on to assist with the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers before taking a stint as the head coach at Stanford.

In 1979, Walsh took over a San Francisco 49ers team that was 2-14 in the previous season. Here he instituted and perfected what became known as the West Coast Offense and piloted his teams to three Super Bowls (1982, 1985 and 1989) over the next decade.

Walsh's 49er teams made seven NFC playoff appearances and captured six NFC West Division Championship in his ten seasons before he resigned in 1989.

With the 49ers, Walsh coached football greats such as Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott. Walsh made a tremendous impact on his players both on and off the field.

"Bill was blessed with one of the greatest gifts you can have, which is the ability to see the future potential of another human being. It just so happened that football was his expertise," Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young said recently. "He saw in me much more than I ever saw in myself, well before I ever had a chance to understand it. That is the ultimate compliment to the word `coach.' There's nothing more a coach should be than to see the full potential of a player unfolded. I am eternally grateful to Bill Walsh."

"I came to San Francisco, and I found another father, Bill Walsh," Jerry Rice said. "He was always there for me, when I was dropping balls, doing everything, when the media were trying to crucify him, 'Why did you go draft this small college player out of Mississippi Valley State?' He hung in there with me."

Walsh was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004 and publicly disclosed his illness in 2006. Leukemia also took his son, former ABC News reporter Steve Walsh in 2002 at the age of 46.

Walsh is survived by his wife, Geri, who was his high school sweetheart, and children Craig and Elizabeth.

Condolences to the Walsh family and the football world, who lost a great football mind but more importantly a great man.

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