Caldwell greatly influenced by Maya Angelou

Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell says he was greatly influenced by the life of Maya Angelou, a famous author and poet who passed away Wednesday.

Jim Caldwell met Angelou when he was the football coach at Wake Forest from 1993-2000.

Carlos Osorio / AP

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he was greatly influenced by the life of Maya Angelou, a famous author and poet who passed away Wednesday.

Caldwell met Angelou when he was the football coach at Wake Forest from 1993-2000 and she was a professor of American Studies for the university.

"She was extremely impactful," Caldwell said. "You look at just the body of her work and what a difference that made for our society from a cultural standpoint, and from a social standpoint as well.

"She influenced a number of students and folks, like myself, who worked there at the university, who had the great fortune of coming into contact with her."

Caldwell said Angelou reached out to him in a very special way at that point of his life and career.

"She invited me to her home and she had a reception for me to get to know people within the community," Caldwell said. "She was on the faculty there for many years and one of the beloved literary giants in our lifetime."