By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter
Nearly 400 fans, family and friends gathered to congratulate the 2022 inductees of the African American Sports Legends. The two-day celebration began on Friday, June 24, 2022 at Holland Gardens with a meet-and-greet hospitality event then concluded on Saturday, June 25 with a formal induction at Jerusalem Baptist Church.
The 2022 induction class honorees each received a City of Toledo resolution, were greeted and introduced by their own walking music, conducted an in-person interview and also signed a piece of memorabilia that will be on display at the African American Legacy Project building. The 2022 induction welcomed eight individuals.
Inductee Frank Baker graduated from Scott High School, where he played varsity football, ran track and earned distinguished all city honors. While attending University of Toledo, he was named All Mid-American Conference, played in the Gem City All-Star game and named MVP. Baker was a fifth-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns and was also drafted later by the Denver Broncos.
Inductee Milton Carswell played basketball and golf before graduating from Waite High School. While attending high school he earned First Team All-City for golf. He attended Central State University and the University of Toledo. Carswell was runner-up in the United Golf Association Junior National, named United Golf Association Golfer of the year, a member of Stroh’s Golf Team and has been pro golf at Collins Park.
Inductee Joseph Green graduated from Scott High School. Green earned All-State honors in football, was a two-time State Wrestling Champion and selected All-City in baseball. Green attended Bowling Green State University and earned recognition while playing football. Green was recruited by the New York Giants and later played for the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans. “As I look back, I understand that I got the most out of that time in my life. I took the time to prepare myself, through blood, sweat and tears,” shared Green.
Inductee Johnny Hutton graduated from Scott High School and was motivated to coach while playing football during his junior year. Hutton earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University and a master’s degree from University of Toledo. During his time coaching, he coached the Red Division All-Star Football Game, Toledo City League Shoe Bowl Football champions and even coach of the year twice.
Inductee Robert Lawson II graduated from Libbey High School. Lawson excelled at football and track, he earned several honors including all-city honors before his graduation. Lawson attended the University of Iowa and continued his football career afterwards with several overseas teams in France, Germany, Australia and even the U.S. Dallas Cowboys. Lawson was voted into the Libbey High School Hall of Fame and Toledo Hall of Fame.
Inductee Pastor Louis Self graduated from Scott High School. Self began boxing at age 11 at the Toledo’s Boys Club and excelled at Soul City Recreation Center. He won five Toledo Golden Gloves championships, went undefeated in his weight class and qualified for the Olympics. Following the Olympics, he turned pro by winning seven of the nine fights over an eight-year period before his retirement in 1980.
Inductee Rickie Upchurch was a three-sport athlete and graduated from Springfield High School. Upchurch excelled at football and was named the Toledo Blade’s All Metro team and All District team. His athletics continued while attending Indian Hills Community College and the University of Minnesota. Upchurch was a fourth-round Denver Broncos draft pick and during his nine NFL seasons, he set an NFL record and led the NFL in two distinct categories. In 2014, he was elected to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame. “I give all the glory to Jesus Christ because without him nothing is possible. I give praise to my coaches, my team, my family and my school for the ability to take advantage of those blessings,” shared Upchurch.
Inductee Ben Williams graduated from Toledo’s Woodward High School, played basketball and graduated from at Bowling Green State University before beginning his coaching career at Woodward. He eventually transferred to Scott High School in 1969, became head coach of the boys varsity basketball team after four years. He served in that role for 24 years and over the years the teams earned 11 city league championships, nine district championships, five regional titles and one state championship.
The African American Sports Legends of Northwest Ohio is a component of the African American Legacy Project of Northwest Ohio founded by Robert Smith. Its mission is consistent with the vision, purpose and goals of the AALP which includes but is not limited to, the discovery, documentation and preservation of the histories and achievements of African American athletes, coaches and distinguished citizens who have made significant contributions to athletics through their genre, regardless of gender.
List of committee members: Doug Allen, Jackie Allen, Leroy Bates, Robert Bates, Land Battles, Truman Claytor, James Coogler, Terry Crosby, Robert Gore, Wes Harper, Bill Hayes, Ed Jaynes, Rob Johnson, James Jones, Willie Loper, Kim Penn, John Preston, Ed Norrils, Robert Shorter, Keith Mathis Smith, Robert Smith and George Snelling.