Charles Knott, the beloved and longtime coach of the girls’ basketball team at Frank Cody High School in Detroit, was shot dead earlier this week outside his apartment building. He was 54.

Knott, who rose from being a janitor in the school district to a legendary coach in the Detroit high school athletic scene, was the victim of gunfire; a car stopped alongside his and pumped bullets into his vehicle at around 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, the Detroit News reported Thursday afternoon.

The Detroit native, who lived in Westland, was a longtime Cody High School coach who led the girls’ basketball team for 20 years and worked in the school district for more than three decades.

Cody High School varsity football coach Calvin Norman told the Detroit Free Press that Knott was well-respected by students.

“It’s just hard to deal with. He had been at Cody for 20 years. He had been in the DPS for 30-plus years,” Norman said. “And he was a month away from retiring. He was a great guy. He loved the kids.”

Cody High School football coach Donald Anderson called Knott’s murder “a shame.

“Coach Knott took pride in his job. A lot of people don't know but he also coached softball, too. Many of his former players kept in contact with him, some on a daily basis,” Anderson told the Detroit News. "He was the kind of guy who would make sure his players did their chores at home. He cared about them."

Knott’s cousin, Retonia Knott-Smith, said the family couldn't think of anyone who would want to kill him.

“We’re at a loss,” she said. “We don’t know who could have possibly done this.”

Bacari Alexander, an assistant men's basketball coach at the University of Michigan, said he used to talk with Knott at various high school basketball games.

“He was a very candid individual,” Alexander said. “He was a man of grace and candor. What everybody appreciated about Coach Knott is he was going to tell you what is on his mind in a subtle and direct way.”

Knott-Smith said her cousin always took an interest in youth, whether he was a janitor or the girls’ basketball coach.

“He loved to be around kids. Even when he was working as a janitor, he was always talking to kids,” she said. “He was very outgoing and direct. So if they were doing something wrong he would check them. They related to him because he just talked to them in their language.”