Darryl L. Coates, 55, an executive who worked to stem the tide of drug abuse and violence among Philadelphia's young people, died Thursday, Oct. 2, of complications from a stroke at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

From 2005 until he became ill in 2012, Mr. Coates was executive director of the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network (PAAN), where he collaborated with city, state, and national officials on intervention strategies.

"Darryl led with authority and strength, and served with humility," PAAN said in a statement on its website. "He had a commanding presence, a heart of gentleness and generosity, and a pure love for and commitment to young people. 'Never cheat a child' was the order he gave to his PAAN army."

Mr. Coates knew the pitfalls of the inner city because he had been reared in the Richard Allen Homes project, and later at 13th and Dauphin Streets in North Philadelphia.

While a student at William Penn High School, he excelled in wrestling and football, playing in several Public League all-star football games.

After graduating from William Penn in 1978, Mr. Coates went to Cheyney State College, where he played football for the Wolves. He earned All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference honors as a wide receiver in 1981 and 1982.

Mr. Coates earned his bachelor of arts degree from Cheyney in 1982. He returned to the school as an assistant football coach from 1984 to 1985 and 1996 to 1997. Later, he was inducted into the Cheyney Athletic Hall of Fame.

While at Cheyney, Mr. Coates met Sharon Dawson. The two married in 1988 and settled in Southwest Philadelphia.

Mr. Coates began his career as a coordinator for the North Central Branch of the YWCA in North Philadelphia. From there, he branched out into crisis intervention.

In 1984, Mr. Coates was initiated into the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity through the Nu Sigma chapter.

Mr. Coates' experiences growing up motivated him to found Nu Sigma Youth Services with the fraternity's support in 1992.

The group's goal was to eradicate violence and substance abuse among the city's young African-American men. In 2002, Mr. Coates and his team developed the group into a full-time agency, with emphasis on leadership development, mentoring, and athletic outlets for underserved youth in the city.

He received numerous awards for his work in Sigma, including the A. Philip Randolph Man of the Year award and the Nu Sigma chapter special recognition award.

Mr. Coates was a member of the Mayors' Commission on African-American Males, National Coalition of African American Organizations, Men United for a Better Philadelphia, American Football Coaches Association, and Black Coaches Association.

He also was active with the First African Baptist Church. He helped with an emergency food cupboard and the Thanksgiving basket drive. He cooked for the monthly men's ministry breakfast and in 2011 was honored at the men's ministry recognition banquet.

"He was a quiet, gentle giant; he was just a beautiful man," said his wife.

Surviving besides his wife are his father, Robert; four sisters; and nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were Thursday, Oct. 9.

Donations may be made to the National Stroke Association via www.stroke.org/.