Joe Gibbs’ el­dest son dies at 49 from neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­ease

J.D. Gibbs was co-founder of team that bears his fathers’ name, and largely ran the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of elite or­ga­ni­za­tion

Sunday Star - - SPORTS - HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP)

— J.D. Gibbs, el­dest son of Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, was re­mem­bered as the vi­sion­ary be­hind the stel­lar ca­reer of sev­eral NASCAR stars fol­low­ing his death from com­pli­ca­tions a long bat­tle with a de­gen­er­a­tive neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­ease. He was 49.

Joe Gibbs Rac­ing an­nounced Gibbs’ death Satur­day. He died Fri­day.

Gibbs was co-founder of the NASCAR team that bears his fathers’ name and he largely ran the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of what is now an elite or­ga­ni­za­tion. He stepped away from JGR in 2015 when it was an­nounced he was suf­fer­ing from “con­di­tions re­lated to brain func­tion.” He was pres­i­dent of JGR at the time and is cred­ited with launch­ing the ca­reer of Day­tona 500 win­ner Denny Ham­lin and spear­head­ing the team’s piv­otal move to Toy­ota.

Ja­son Dean Gibbs was also a staunch sup­porter of Tony Ste­wart and Kyle Busch, who won cham­pi­onships for the or­ga­ni­za­tion de­spite nu­mer­ous skir­mishes on and off the track. Ste­wart, a twotime cham­pion driv­ing for Gibbs, posted a photo from his 2002 ti­tle cel­e­bra­tion in New York City along­side Gibbs and then-crew chief Greg Zi­padelli.

“Heart­bro­ken for the en­tire Gibbs fam­ily,” Ste­wart wrote on so­cial me­dia. “J.D. was a great per­son — a fam­ily man who loved sports & rac­ing in par­tic­u­lar. He played a big part in my ca­reer, both as a driver & as a team owner. When he asked how you were do­ing, he gen­uinely cared. that the most.”

Ham­lin, who was found by Gibbs rac­ing short tracks in Vir­ginia, posted a photo sit­ting next to Gibbs be­fore his 2006 Cup de­but. Lurk­ing just over Gibbs’ shoul­der is Ham­lin’s fa­ther, who told Gibbs that day ‘He’s all yours now.’

“I will al­ways be grate­ful for what his fam­ily did for I’ll miss

mine and the op­por­tu­nity he gave me 14 years ago,” Ham­lin wrote.

Gibbs played de­fen­sive back and quar­ter­back at Wil­liam & Mary from 1987-90 while his fa­ther coached the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins, a team he led to three Su­per Bowl ti­tles. He tran­si­tioned into NASCAR and the fam­ily busi­ness when the el­der Gibbs launched his NASCAR team in 1992.

Gibbs was even­tu­ally co-chair­man of JGR, but be­gan with the or­ga­ni­za­tion as a part­time driver and over-the-wall crew mem­ber. He made 13 NASCAR na­tional se­ries starts be­tween 1998 and 2002.

“We were priv­i­leged to watch J.D. Gibbs grow within the spor t, dis­play­ing an en­dear­ing per­son­al­ity, a keen eye for tal­ent and the strong busi­ness acu­men that helped grow Joe Gibbs Rac­ing into a pre­em­i­nent NASCAR team,” said NASCAR Chair­man Jim France. “The NASCAR fam­ily has lost a truly spe­cial mem­ber.”

Wash­ing­ton owner Dan Sny­der and wife Tanya say they are “heart­bro­ken for the J.D. Gibbs fam­ily” and “for any­one who had the honor and priv­i­lege to know J.D., he was in­stantly rec­og­nized as a cham­pion in life and sports.”

Gibbs is sur vived by wife Melissa and four sons.

AP PHOTO

Team owner Joe Gibbs, right, helps cut a birth­day cake for driver Joey Logano, cen­ter, with J.D. Gibbs, left, dur­ing news con­fer­ence dur­ing prac­tice for Sun­day’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries Coca-Cola 600 race at Lowe’s Mo­tor Speed­way in Con­cord, N.C., Satur­day, May 24, 2008. J.D. Gibbs died at 49 on Fri­day from neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­ease.

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