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Top 50 sports figures in Bluff City history

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Sports has given Memphis plenty to be proud of for much of its 200 years. 

As the Bluff City celebrates its bicentennial, The Commercial Appeal put together a list of 50 of the top sports figures in its history. Some will inevitably disagree with one or more inclusions, which is OK — some might even encourage it. 

The basic criteria for the list are that the person was either born in Memphis or made their name here. 

Presenting to you the 50 most notable sports figures in Bluff City history (in alphabetical order).

Tony Allen: Known as “The Grindfather,” as well as a member of the Grizzlies’ “Core Four,” Allen became a fan favorite and a defining member of the team’s “Grit and Grind” era, essentially coining the phrase. From 2010 to 2017, Allen scored All-NBA Defensive Team honors six times and was key in each of the four playoff series wins in franchise history. As important as anyone to Memphis and the Grizzlies, Allen once told The Commercial Appeal it was a two-way street. “My heart is here. That big ol’ blue face, that Grizzly bear, that’s where my heart is.”

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Gene Bartow: Led Memphis State to an 82-32 overall record in four seasons as head coach. The Tigers’ most successful campaign on Bartow’s watch was the 1972-73 season when Memphis State reached the national championship game — the first of the program’s two title game appearances. He was named NABC National Coach of the Year in 1973 and inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Bartow went on to coach at Illinois, UCLA (where he succeeded the legendary John Wooden) and UAB, where he later served as athletics director from 1977 to 2000. A personal favorite of legendary Memphis broadcaster, Jack Eaton, who once said: “… Bartow, he was the master.”

Betty Booker: The all-time leading scorer in Lady Tigers history, Booker racked up 2,835 points over four years without the benefit of the 3-point line. She became the first-ever University of Memphis student-athlete elected to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. Booker, who later coached basketball, volleyball and track at White Station for 14 years, remains tied (with Tamika Whitmore) for the highest career per-game scoring average (20.7). 

Isaac Bruce: He played just two seasons for the Tigers, but they were eye-opening. The St. Louis Rams made him a second-round pick in the 1994 NFL Draft. He went on to collect the fifth-most receiving yards in NFL history and win a Super Bowl. 

John Calipari: Undoubtedly one of the least popular names on the list among Memphians, Calipari compiled 214 wins in nine seasons as Memphis coach. Those 214 victories are second-most by a Tigers coach in program history (Larry Finch’s 220 is the record). Memphis won the NIT in 2002 and Calipari guided the Tigers to four Sweet 16 appearances as well as the national championship game in 2008. The school was forced to vacate all of its wins during the 2007-2008 season when Derrick Rose’s SAT  score was invalidated.

Phil Cannon: The Memphis native eventually became synonymous with the FedEx St. Jude Golf Classic — the city’s first major professional sporting event — when he served as the tournament’s director from 1999 to 2015. But his relationship with the FESJC (now the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational) began as a volunteer in 1966, when he was a 14-year-old high school student at White Station. Cannon became a full-time employee in 1990. He also wore several other sports-related hats around Memphis, including being a longtime press box PA announcer for football games at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and serving as the Mid-South Coliseum general manager for five years in the 1980s. 

Stubby Clapp: Was given the nickname “Mayor of Memphis” during his four-season playing career with the Redbirds. Clapp’s 418 hits are third-most in team history, while his 258 runs scored are second-most. The St. Louis Cardinals’ current first base coach spent two seasons as the team’s manager, winning Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year honors both years and leading the Redbirds to back-to-back PCL championships as well as the AAA National Championship in 2018. His jersey is the only one ever retired by the Redbirds.

Mike Conley: The longest-tenured Grizzlies player in franchise history, the team made Conley its point guard after drafting him fourth overall in 2007. In 12 seasons, the former Ohio State star has rewritten the Grizzlies’ record book. He currently holds nine team records (second only to longtime teammate Marc Gasol), including points, games, assists, steals and 3-pointers. 

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Chris Douglas-Roberts: Starred at Memphis from 2005 to 2008, finishing his Tigers career as the program’s 10th-leading scorer all-time. Douglas-Roberts (who later legally changed his name to Supreme Bey) was the team’s leading scorer during the 2007-08 season, when the team reached the national championship game. He became the school’s third Associated Press first-team All-American in men’s basketball and there has not been one since. Douglas-Roberts is also the only Sports Illustrated first-team All-American and was later the 40th overall pick in the NBA draft. 

A.F. “Bud” Dudley: A native of Philadelphia and a former athletics director at Villanova, Dudley founded the Liberty Bowl in 1959 and served as its executive director until 1994. First played in Philadelphia, then Atlantic City, the game was moved to Memphis in 1965. Dudley’s plan after leaving Atlantic City was to keep moving the game’s locale each year, but he was once quoted as saying, “After I got to Memphis, I never got to the other cities.” The Liberty Bowl currently stands as the eighth-oldest active bowl game. 

Jack Eaton: A true Memphis sports icon, Eaton was the “Voice of the Tigers” from 1964 to 1991, and WMC-TV’s sports director from 1956 to 1991. He also called play-by-play for Memphis State basketball and Ole Miss football from 1959 to 1963 and was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. 

Jake Elliott: Less than a decade after Stephen Gostkowski rewrote the Tigers’ record book, Elliott put his own stamp on the program. Aided by a school-record 81 made field goals (currently the eighth-most in NCAA history), his 445 points are the most in Memphis history and 14th-most in NCAA history. The Bengals made Elliott the first kicker drafted in 2017 (fifth round), but he was claimed off the practice squad by the Eagles. Elliott set numerous NFL rookie records in 2017, including the longest field goal by a rookie kicker in a Super Bowl, when his 46-yarder helped Philadelphia win Super Bowl LII.

Larry Finch: Considered by many to be among the most important sports figures in Memphis history, Finch first made a name for himself as a basketball star at Melrose High. As a player, he is fourth on the Tigers’ all-time scoring list and still holds the record for most points in a single game (48, on Jan. 20, 1973, against St. Joseph’s). He averaged 26.8 points per game during Memphis State’s run to the national title game in the 1972-1973 season. Finch was named the Tigers’ head coach in 1986, made six NCAA tournament appearances and remains the program’s all-time winningest coach (220-130 overall record). “Very few people have meant more to bring the community together in their sphere than Larry Finch,” Cato Johnson, a member of the university’s board of trustees, said last year. 

Avron Fogelman: A retired real estate developer, Fogelman (a Central High grad) has left an indelible mark on Memphis sports. At 30, the Memphis-born Fogelman became president of the ABA’s Memphis Pros. He is largely responsible for bringing pro baseball back to the Bluff City in 1978, when the Chicks (then a minor league affiliate of the Kansas City Royals) were introduced. Fogelman, who also brought the WFL’s Grizzlies/Southmen and the NASL’s Rogues to town, was later a part-owner of the Royals for nine seasons (including 1985, when the team won its first World Series). 

Marc Gasol: The second-longest tenured Grizzly, Gasol became a Memphian in 2001 when his older brother, Pau, joined the team. After attending Lausanne and earning Division II Mr. Basketball honors in 2003, he spent several seasons in Spain before the Grizzlies drafted him 48th overall in 2007. The three-time All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year (2013) and “Core Four” designee was traded to the Toronto Raptors in February 2019 as the Grizzlies’ franchise leader in field goals, rebounds, free throws and blocks. 

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Pau Gasol: The only Grizzly on this list outside the “Core Four,” but arguably as instrumental to the team’s success as anyone. The elder Gasol’s NBA career began in Memphis when the Grizzlies traded for him after he was picked third overall in the draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2002 and spent the next six seasons in the Bluff City, helping the team reach the playoffs three times. In 2008, the Grizzlies traded Gasol for — among others — his younger brother, Marc.

Stephen Gostkowski: A record-breaking placekicker at Memphis from 2002-05, Gostkowski also played baseball for the Tigers. He threw 65 ⅓ innings as a freshman and is still the only person in Conference USA history to make the All-Freshman team in both football and baseball. You know the rest: fourth-round pick of the Patriots, three-time Super Bowl champ, four-time Pro Bowler and an NFL-record 479 consecutive extra points made. 

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway: Born and raised in Memphis, the Treadwell and Memphis State alum became a household name after being taken third overall in the 1993 NBA draft by the Orlando Magic. The consensus first-team All-American, four-time All-Star and gold-medal winner at the 1996 Olympics, Hardaway got into coaching at Lester Middle School in 2011. He later coached AAU ball and helped lead East High to three state championships before being hired as head coach at Memphis. 

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Michael Heisley: The man responsible for turning Memphis into a major league sports town. Heisley orchestrated the Grizzlies’ move from Vancouver to the Bluff City in 2001. The billionaire businessman, who died in 2014 — two years after selling his controlling stake in the franchise to Robert Pera — was also largely responsible for getting the organization involved in the community, forming the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Claude Humphrey: A star football and basketball player at old Lester High, Humphrey was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the third overall pick in 1968. The Hall of Famer was taken ahead of fellow future Hall of Famers Larry Csonka, Curley Culp and Ken Stabler. Humphrey won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1968 and finished his career with 126.5 career sacks — unofficially, since the NFL didn’t keep sacks as an official stat until 1982. 

Jerry Johnson: The longtime (and legendary) LeMoyne-Owen men’s basketball coach led the Magicians for 46 seasons, guiding them to the Division III national championship in 1975. According to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Johnson learned basketball from John McLendon, who played basketball at Kansas when the school’s athletic director was James Naismith (the inventor of the sport). Johnson’s 821 career victories are the 21st-most in NCAA history. 

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George Lapides: As renowned a sports journalist as there’s been in Memphis, Lapides became the sports editor and columnist for the old Memphis Press-Scimitar at 27 and held the position until it closed in 1983. Lapides seemingly had a hand in all things related to sports in the Bluff City before he died in 2016. He spent 10 years as WREG-TV’s sports editor, was Rhodes College’s athletic director for one year and the general manager of the Memphis Chicks, but more notably hosted a sports talk radio show for 45 years, first on WHER, then on WHBQ. “Sports Time” was the longest-running sports radio show in the country. 

Jerry Lawler: The WWE Hall of Famer, dubbed “The King,” has held more recognized championship belts than any other professional wrestler in history. Born in Memphis in 1949, his family moved to Ohio for eight years, returning to the Bluff City when Lawler was in high school. After more than two decades as one of the most popular figures in Memphis wrestling (during which time he notoriously feuded with comedian Andy Kaufman), Lawler signed with WWE where he worked as both an in-ring performer as well as a key member of the company’s broadcast team. 

Keith Lee: The Tigers’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Lee was a four-time Associated Press All-American and was the first AP first-team selection in school history. A native of West Memphis, Arkansas, the 6-foot-11 forward helped Memphis State reach the NCAA Tournament three times in four seasons. The Chicago Bulls used the 11th overall pick in the 1985 draft to take Lee, who spent three seasons in the NBA.

Tim McCarver: The Christian Brothers alum enjoyed as successful a broadcast career as he did as a player. A member of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, McCarver made his MLB debut at 17 years old and eventually became a two-time World Series champion, a two-time All-Star and spent 21 years in the big leagues. Memphis’ minor league baseball teams played at Tim McCarver Stadium until 2000, when the Redbirds moved to AutoZone Park. During his broadcast career, he called a then-record 23 World Series and 20 All-Star games. In 2012, he won the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting.

Nikki McCray: The Collierville native helped lead Pat Summitt’s Tennessee Lady Vols to a national championship in 1991. She later became a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a three-time WNBA All-Star. McCray was also a part of an NCAA championship in 2017 as an assistant coach at South Carolina. She is currently the head coach at Old Dominion. In 2015, McCray, already part of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, became the first female from Tennessee inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame. 

Shaun Micheel: The Memphis native and Christian Brothers alum went into the 2003 PGA Championship (his only PGA Tour win) at the age of 33 and ranked 169th in the world. Micheel’s approach shot on No. 18 at Oak Hill that clinched his victory was described by commentator Jim Nantz this way: “One of the great shots you’ll ever see under championship pressure. Three inches.” In 2006, he claimed the runner-up prize at the same tournament, finishing second to Tiger Woods. In 2010, he became just the second player ever to double eagle at the U.S. Open. 

Cary Middlecoff: One of the leading professional golfers of his era, the Christian Brothers alum’s 40 PGA Tour wins is still 10th-most all-time. The World Golf Hall of Famer won two U.S. Opens and a Masters, and was part of three Ryder Cup-winning teams. At the time of his retirement in the early 1960s, Middlecoff had won more money than anyone on the PGA Tour. He once said, “I don’t deny I’m nervous. I have always maintained that a man who is not nervous is either an idiot or has never been close enough to winning to get nervous.”

Anthony Miller: The youngest person to appear on the list, Miller starred at Christian Brothers before walking on at Memphis and eventually becoming the school’s all-time leading receiver. Drafted 51st overall (second round) by the Chicago Bears in 2018, Miller led the team with seven touchdown catches, becoming the team’s first rookie since Willie Gault (1983) with at least seven. 

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Sputnik Monroe: A true superstar in professional wrestling when superstars were few and far between. Inducted into the Legacy Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018, Monroe made waves during his time in Memphis that stretched far beyond the Bluff City and the realm of professional wrestling. He is credited with desegregating Ellis Auditorium in the late 1950s after refusing to perform unless black fans were allowed to buy tickets for any seat they wanted. As written by The Commercial Appeal’s John Beifuss in 2017: “Race, pop culture, politics — Sputnik drop-kicked them to the canvas by palling around with ‘coloreds’ and insisting on the desegregation of wrestling matches at Ellis Auditorium at a time when the rule of Jim Crow was as accepted as the teaching of Jesus Christ.”

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Johnny Neumann: Recruited out of Overton High by the likes of John Wooden and Adolph Rupp, Neumann eventually signed with Ole Miss and led the nation in scoring (40.1 points per game) as a sophomore – still the fourth-highest single-season average only behind Pete Maravich’s three varsity years. That earned him All-America status and he was named SEC Player of the Year in his only varsity season with the Rebels. Neumann averaged 13.2 points per game in eight seasons as a pro. 

Michael Oher: The former five-star recruit out of Briarcrest became a household name before ever stepping foot on a national stage. The subject of “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game,” Oher’s life story was first chronicled in book form in 2006. The film adaptation was a box-office success and scored Sandra Bullock an Academy Award for her portrayal of Oher’s real-life adoptive mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy. The film was released just months after Oher became a first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens. He won a Super Bowl ring with the team in 2013. He last played for the Carolina Panthers in 2016. 

Cindy Parlow: Born in Memphis in 1978, the Germantown alum won the Hermann Trophy (women’s college soccer’s equivalent of the Heisman) twice at North Carolina, was a four-time All-American and a three-time national champion. Parlow (now Cindy Parlow Cone) went on to win two gold medals and became a FIFA Women’s World Cup champion in 1999. She was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2018. 

Elliot Perry: A McDonald’s All-American at Treadwell, Perry’s success at the high school level landed him a scholarship to play for his hometown Memphis State Tigers. Perry is still the program’s second-leading scorer (2,209) and is one of only two players in school history to score more than 2,000 points in his career. The 37th overall pick in the 1991 NBA draft, Perry played in 547 games with seven teams, including the Grizzlies. 

Allie Prescott: A star baseball player at Kinsbury (a two-time Commercial Appeal All-City honoree and the paper’s Player of the Year in 1965), Prescott was a 33rd-round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles the same year. But he chose to play for Memphis State, where he earned all-Missouri Valley Conference honors as a pitcher. He later became general manager of the Memphis Chicks and the Redbirds, and was heavily involved in getting AutoZone Park built. On May 14, 2019, Prescott was named interim athletic director at Memphis. 

Thompson Prothro: Nicknamed “Doc” because the Memphis native was a practicing dentist before signing his first professional baseball contract at 26. Prothro, who attended the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, managed the Memphis Chicks to four Southern Association championships (1928, 1930, 1934 and 1944). Prothro later became the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and led them to a 138-320 record, earning him the distinction of the worst managerial record in MLB history for anyone with at least three full seasons. 

Zach Randolph: Referred to in the wake of his departure as “the greatest of all Grizzlies” by The Commercial Appeal after receiving 92 percent of the vote. It isn’t difficult to comprehend what made him so popular and why he will always be part of the “Core Four.” The only times Randolph made the NBA All-Star team came during his time with the Grizzlies and his double-double (25 and 14) in Game 1 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in 2011 led the team to its first playoff win. His 21.5 points per game and 9.2 rebounding average in the same series against the top-seeded Spurs propelled the Grizzlies to the franchise’s first playoff series victory. 

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Andy Roberts: A member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, the Christian Brothers grad is also part of the University of Memphis M-Club Hall of Fame, the U.S. Racquetball Association Hall of Fame and the International Racquetball Hall of Fame. Roberts helped lead Memphis to two National Intercollegiate Racquetball championships. 

Ronnie Robinson: The “Big Cat,” Robinson spent much of his playing career as Larry Finch’s running mate, first at Melrose and later at Memphis State. The duo, whose jersey numbers were both retired on Nov. 30, 1974 (just more than a year after they led the Tigers to their first national championship game appearance) were part of the first Memphis State team to produce the school’s first NCAA Tournament victory (in 1973). Robinson’s 12.8 rebounds per game is still the top mark in program history.

Derrick Rose: Perhaps the person on this list with the shortest tenure in the Bluff City, but this is where Rose became a household name. He led the Tigers to their second (and most recent) NCAA Tournament championship game appearance in 2008 — although, technically, every win from that season has been vacated — scoring 14.9 points per game in the regular season and putting up 25 in the team’s Final Four win over UCLA. Went on to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award in 2009 and an MVP award in 2011. 

Kyle Rote Jr.: National Soccer Hall of Famer who served as both coach and general manager for the Memphis Americans of the Major Indoor Soccer League. Also a member of the sports halls of fame in Tennessee and his native Texas, Rote Jr. founded Athletic Resource Management, a sports representation agency in Memphis where super-agent Jimmy Sexton once served as president.

Verties Sails: A legendary basketball coach whose coaching career began as an assistant at Melrose during Larry Finch’s time as a player with the Golden Wildcats, Sails led Melrose to a state championship as the head coach in 1974. After five years as an assistant at Memphis State, he spent the next 33 as head men’s basketball coach at Southwest Tennessee Community College (then Shelby State), where the Tennessee Sports Hall of Famer led the Saluquis to 709 wins and 16 Tennessee Community College Athletic Association championships.

Harry Schuh: Considered by many to be the best offensive lineman in Tigers history, Schuh earned All-America status at Memphis State in 1963 and 1964. The Tennessee Sports and M-Club Hall of Famer is one of just six Tiger football players to have his jersey number retired and was the third overall pick in the 1965 AFL draft. He won an AFL championship with the Oakland Raiders in 1967 and was a two-time AFL All-Star. Schuh was also part of the second AFL-NFL World Championship Game (later known as Super Bowl II). 

Jimmy Sexton: The Memphis-born super-agent, Sexton has been referred to as “the most powerful man in college football.” He holds the distinction of being the youngest agent ever certified by the NFL Players’ Association and made his first big splash representing Hall of Famer Reggie White. Among those represented by Sexton (co-head of Creative Artists Agency’s football division and a 1982 Evangelical Christian School grad) are Alabama football coach Nick Saban (as well as 10 of the other 13 SEC football coaches), Scottie Pippen, Bill Parcells and Isaac Bruce.

Rochelle Stevens: A graduate of Melrose, Stevens became a state champion and national high school All-American with the Golden Wildcats. An 11-time NCAA All-American at Morgan State, she later won a gold medal in the women’s 4×400 at the 1996 Olympics. She also won silver at the 1992 Olympics in the same event. 

Bill Terry: Nicknamed “Memphis Bill,” the Atlanta native spent most of his youth in the Bluff City. After five unspectacular seasons in the minor leagues, Terry operated a filling station and played semi-pro baseball in Memphis for four years. Acquired by the New York Giants in 1922, he became a regular in 1927. Elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954, he was the last National League player to hit .400. He also managed the Giants from 1932 to 1941. 

Andre Turner: Dubbed the “Little General,” Turner will forever reside in Memphis lore as one of the best guards in Tigers history. After a standout high school career at Mitchell, Turner became Memphis State’s vocal leader from 1983 to 1986 (“If I hit the court and I felt someone wasn’t giving all they could give, I didn’t hesitate about saying something,” he once said). Turner averaged 14.8 points and 7.6 assists per game during the Tigers’ run to the Final Four in 1985, leading one television broadcaster to remark at the end of the quarterfinal win over Oklahoma: “As far as Memphis State is concerned, you can understand why they want the ball in the hands of Andre Turner.” His 763 career assists remains the most in Memphis history — 124 more than Chris Garner, who has the second-most.

DeAngelo Williams: Arguably the most accomplished and decorated football player in Tigers history, Williams is Memphis’ only 6,000-yard rusher and has scored more touchdowns than any other Tiger. His 6,026 rushing yards is still fifth-most in NCAA history. Williams was a first-round pick in the 2006 draft by the Carolina Panthers, and amassed more than 10,000 yards of offense during an 11-year career that ended with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016.

James Earl Wright: A pioneer of sorts when it comes to Memphis Tigers football. Wright held 10 school records at the conclusion of his collegiate career and parlayed his success into a becoming a third-round selection of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1961. It was Wright who quarterbacked the Tigers into the big-time. In 1960 at Crump Stadium, Wright and Co. led mighty Ole Miss 20-19 at halftime. Memphis State eventually lost 31-20, but that was the game that opened the eyes of many around Memphis and the country. Legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant was once quoted saying, “James Earl Wright is too good to play for any team other than Alabama.”

Lorenzen Wright: Born in Oxford, Wright’s family moved to Memphis while he was still in high school. He played his senior season at Booker T. Washington and became a consensus second-team All-American at Memphis in 1996. The same year, he was drafted seventh overall and averaged 7.9 points and 6.3 rebounds during a 13-year NBA career. In 2010, Wright was found in Germantown after he had been shot and killed. His ex-wife, Sherra Wright, and Billy Turner were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. They are set to go on trial for his death on Sept. 16, 2019. 

The Just-Missed List

Hubie Brown: Guided the Grizzlies to the franchise’s first playoff appearance in his only full season as the team’s coach. Won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2003-2004. 

Dave Casinelli: The former Tiger fullback has the third-most rushing yards in program history and was its leading rusher for more than four decades. Led the nation in rushing yards and scoring as a senior in 1963. 

Billy Dunavant: Founded the Racquet Club of Memphis in 1972 and brought the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships to Memphis in 1975. Owner of the USFL’s Memphis Showboats, who also tried (in vain) to bring an NFL franchise to the Bluff City.

Steve Ehrhart: Executive director of the Liberty Bowl since 1994. Former vice president and general manager of the XFL’s Memphis Maniax. Ehrhart also served as executive director of the USFL, while also running the Memphis Showboats. 

Sylvester Ford: Spent more than four decades as a high school basketball coach in Memphis and won 687 games, “Big Time” became a legend at Fairley. Ford coached there from 1987 to 2012. The 1993 state championship team finished 37-1 and is considered by many to be one of the most dominant in Memphis history. 

Dean Jernigan: Memphis Redbirds founder who is responsible for bringing professional baseball back to Memphis and getting AutoZone Park built downtown. 

Paxton Lynch: Second-leading passer in Memphis football history (8,863 yards in three seasons). A first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2016. 

John Pennel: Born in Memphis in 1940 and inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2004. The first man to clear 17 feet in the pole vault.

Elma Roane: A star basketball and softball player for Memphis Messick, Roane later became women’s athletic director at Memphis State, and coached basketball, volleyball and badminton from 1955 to 1970. 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Born in Memphis, raised in Olive Branch, Stenhouse was the 2011 and 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion. He won the 2017 Geico 500 and the 2017 Coke Zero 400. In 2013, he was named the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year. 

10 who could make the next list

James Wiseman: The nation’s top high school basketball recruit, who played at East High for two seasons and signed with Memphis. 

Darrell Henderson: The Tigers’ second-leading rusher of all time, who was taken in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. 

Jaren Jackson Jr.: Fourth overall pick of the Grizzlies in the 2018 draft. Averaged 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds during an injury-shortened rookie season. 

Rachel Heck: St. Agnes junior (committed to Stanford) ranked as high as 11th in the World Amateur Golf rankings. She has already competed in two professional majors (2017 U.S. Women’s Open and 2018 Evian Championship). 

Eric Gray: Former Lausanne running back, who holds the Tennessee state record for career touchdowns (138). Enrolled at UT in January 2019. 

Maurice Hampton: Starred at MUS in football and baseball. DII-AA Mr. Football in 2018. Signed with LSU football and committed to play baseball at LSU. Projected first-round MLB draft pick. 

Mike Norvell: Memphis football coach since 2016. Led the Tigers to 26 wins in his first three seasons. Guided Memphis to AAC West division titles in 2017 and 2018. 

Jeremiah Martin: Became the 52nd player in Memphis history to join the 1,000-point club. His 708 points in 2018-19 are second-most by a senior in Tigers history, 13 shy of Larry Finch’s record. 

Avery Downing: Houston High grad, paralyzed at 13 years old in a gymnastics accident, who won national championships with the Alabama women’s wheelchair basketball team and the Crimson Tide’s women’s wheelchair tennis team in 2019. 

D.J. Jeffries: Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year (2019). Won a state championship in 2018. Signed with Memphis. 

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