His accomplishments leading the Miami Dolphins became legendary and his name became synonymous with winning - as Don Shula truly put South Florida on the landscape of sports dominance.
Shula died Monday at the age of 90, the team confirmed in a statement.
Those who covered him in the media and those who cheered him on during games had nothing but positive things to say about the man who led the Dolphins for 26 seasons, a tenure that included five trips to the Super Bowl and two titles.
“He completely changed the entire outlook of this community. One man, in my estimation, galvanized this entire South Florida community," said former NBC 6 anchor Tony Segreto, who spent decades covering the Dolphins and Shula in both news and sports.
“He met presidents, he met the Dalai Lama, he met Mother Teresa, he met the Pope. This man’s legacy goes well beyond football," Segreto added.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel sports columnist Dave Hyde covered the Dolphins in the 1980s and said like all great sports figures, Shula was focused on his team and the record of wins and losses.
“Let’s not forget Shula had an ego and he was competitive," Hyde said. "I once asked him about (Vince) Lombardi and he said 'how long did Lombardi coach?' Well, he knew how long Lombardi coached. 10 years in the NFL. Shula coached 26. Even in his later years, he was competing.”
After the coaching was done, Shula become a leader in the business community. Shula created a steakhouse that eventually brought his name to a new generation.
“It’s a sad day for many of us," said Tom Valentin, an executive with Shula's hotel and restaurant in Miami Lakes.“Anytime he came in, the place sparked up. He was the ambassador for the local community. He was certainly the legend with the Miami Dolphins and certainly made an impact on all of us.”
"It's a heavy loss for the South Florida community, definitely," James Switzer and Lonnie Cohen, both Miami Lakes residents and fans of the Dolphins, told NBC 6 reporter Amanda Plasencia. "Especially him being so decorated in the NFL and contributing to his community. It's a heavy loss for us here."
Shula was a devout Catholic who attended mass daily during his coaching career and was a regular at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Hialeah.
South Florida's political community joined in on expressing of grief for Shula's passing.
"The Graham family has enjoyed a close friendship with the Don Shula family since the 1970s. Our families shared the same neighborhood with many close friends," said former U.S. Senator and Florida Gov. Bob Graham in a statement.
U.S. Senator and Miami native Marco Rubio tweeted a picture of himself with Shula on the sidelines of Hard Rock Stadium.
“He was an amazing human being who was uncompromising when it came to integrity, fairness, faith, and family," Segreto said.
Funeral services have not been announced.