Leonard Hamilton has experienced about all one can on the hardwood.
Hamilton played college basketball at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Following graduation, he jumped from suiting up to wearing a suit as an assistant coach at Austin Peay for three seasons and then at the University of Kentucky under head coach Joe B. Hall.
The men’s basketball coach moved from Oklahoma to South Beach to coach the University of Miami after four seasons. He built the Hurricanes basketball program to be consistent NCAA Tournament participants, making the Big Dance his final three years and reaching the Sweet 16 in his last.
The NBA’s Washington Wizards came calling in 2000 and Leonard took the job. He only coached one year in The Association, going 19-63. He was fired after the 2001-01 campaign and replaced by Doug Collins.
He took a year off and landed in his current role at the Florida State University. His wife Claudette has been by his side since his college days.
Leonard Hamilton’s Wife Claudette Hamilton
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton and Claudette met while they were both students at UT-Martin in the late 1960s, according to Fabwags. They married shortly after Hamilton started his coaching career at Austin Peay.
The couple has two children together: son Lenny born in 1970 — who’s a musician — and daughter Allison Janae born in 1984 — who’s an artist.
Mrs. Hamilton is a former volunteer tutor turned homemaker. The two have been married for 51 years.
Coach Hamilton says the two things that calm him down are his wife and gospel music.
In his hometown of Gastonia, North Carolina, he grew up next to a Baptist church and could hear the music from his bedroom. He says gospel music is part of who he is.
Claudette’s support and music have been keys in helping Hamilton build a program in Tallahassee for almost two decades. He’s won multiple ACC Coach of the Year Awards and captured the ACC Tournament title in 2012.
Hamilton is the only coach to be named Big East Coach of the Year and ACC Coach of the Year. In 2018, he was named the Clarence “Big House” Gaines National Coach of the Year by the National Media Sports Media Association.
The Florida State Seminoles have been a staple in the NCAA Tournament the past five years; the peak coming with an Elite Eight appearance in 2018. As Atlantic Coast Conference regular season champions, FSU had a real shot to do some damage in 2020, but March Madness was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For over half a century, Claudette has been cheering on Leonard from the sidelines. That encouragement is doing wonders because the 72-year-old basketball coach barely looks 50, and his program plays its best basketball in the postseason.