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CHAMPAIGN — Justin Bates, 45, of Champaign died Wednesday (Jan. 5, 2022) at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana.

Justin was preceded in death by his father, his grandparents and two aunts.

He is survived by his wife, Denise; two children, Hayden and Morgan; his mother, Linda Bates of Champaign; his brother, Thaddeus Bates of Philo; his nephew, Walker; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

Justin grew up outside of Pesotum. He attended grade school at Holy Cross School in Champaign and graduated from Unity High School in 1994. He was a four-sport athlete who played football, basketball and baseball and ran track. He was quarterback of the varsity football team his senior year. After graduation, he attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where he earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture. He was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

He and Denise got married Sept. 13, 2003, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Champaign. They became members of St. Matthew Catholic Church in Champaign when their children began to attend school there.

Justin channeled his love of sports into his love of coaching. From the time his son began basketball at the age of 3, he coached all of his basketball and baseball teams. With baseball, he coached year round. He coached YMCA basketball, Illinois Braves travel baseball, Champaign East and West Little League, Champaign East All Stars, St. Matthew's fifth-grade basketball and St. Matthew's junior varsity and varsity baseball. Even though his son played on all the teams that he coached, Justin considered all of his players as "his boys" and enjoyed helping them succeed. Odds are if you ran into Justin, he would be carrying a baseball, headed to a baseball game, or on the baseball field.

As much as he loved baseball, he also loved watching his daughter dance. A member of the Art in Motion Dance Company, he attended dance competitions and recitals to watch his favorite peanut dance. He found pure joy in seeing her do what she loved.

He really enjoyed boating and fishing and spending time at the family cabin on Leech Lake in Minnesota. He loved attending the Indy 500 with friends as often as possible. He was an avid Cubs fan.

He was loved by many and never met a stranger. Justin always made people feel comfortable. He had a great sense of humor and was so much fun to be around. He will be missed by his friends, those who knew him for a lifetime and those that just met him.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, at Freese Funeral Home, 407 N. Bourne St., Tolono, with the Rosary at 3:30 p.m. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign.

The family will be honoring Justin’s legacy and commitment to youth baseball by establishing a scholarship in Justin’s name. Details are still being finalized. In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to the Justin Bates Memorial, c/o Denise Bates, 30 E. Main St., 5th Floor, P.O. Box 560, Champaign, IL 61824-0560.

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