The African American Sports Legends Hall of Fame Welcomes Nine New Members

2024 Sports Legend Hall of Fame Inductees

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

The African American Legacy Project of Northwest Ohio inducted nine new members into the African American Sports Legends Hall of Fame this weekend. The two-day event kicked off Friday, June 14, with a sold-out Smoker at the Fifth Third building in downtown Toledo and an induction ceremony Saturday, June 15, at Jerusalem Baptist Church.

Around 400 guests joined Robert Smith, CEO of the AALP and his team of Sports Legends for a banquet to welcome new members into the Hall of Fame.

Guests on Friday night enjoyed a beautiful setting on the river enjoying views from the large picture windows of the Fifth Third Center.

The 2024 Sports Legends Inductees are:

Al Baker – Football

Al Baker is chairman emeritus of the University of Toledo’s Board of Trustees. The Scott High School alumnus was a star receiver on UT’s undefeated team 35 and 0 team. Baker distinguished himself by being selected to the All Mid American Conference team for three consecutive years. He decided not to pursue a career in the NFL but settled instead on what would become a distinguished business career. Baker retired as Vice President of Owens-Illinois in 1976.

Truman Claytor, 2024 Inductee Donald Collins and Ray Wood

Myron Bell – Football
Myron Bell left his mark on Macomber High School in both football and basketball. In 1988 Bell and his high school teammate Jim Jackson won a state basketball championship. Afterwards, Bell completed an extraordinary football career at Michigan State. Drafted in the fifth round of the 1994 NFL Draft, Bell became a force to reckon with at safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.

Jerry Blanton – Football
Jerry Blanton was a standout full back and linebacker at DeVilbiss High School. Blanton was the first freshman in the history of the University of Kentucky to earn a varsity starting position. He led UK to a Peach Bowl victory in 1976. Blanton received numerous accolades and awards both at UK and during his exceptional NFL career as linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Robert Clark – Golf
Robert Clark has been a PGA Golf Professional for more than 40 years. This former business executive – a 1960 Central Catholic High School grad – earned his BS degree from Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio. He became a PGA professional in 1995, later founding the Portland Youth Golf Association before becoming an assistant coach at Alabama State University in 2011.

Donald Collins – Basketball
Donald Collins is an amazing a Scott High School “phenom” who earned the distinction as Pac-10 Player of the year for Washington State University. Collins was a formidable NBA athlete who played with the Washington Bullets and the Atlanta Hawks also played professionally overseas in both France and Switzerland. Even today, Collins is often referred to the best player to ever wear a Washington State basketball uniform.

Eddie Norrils, 2024 Inductee Nigel-Hayes Davis and Wes Harper

Nigel Hayes Davis – Basketball
While maintaining a 4.3 GPA, Nigel earned – among other accolades – 1st Team All Blade, and 1st Team All – Ohio before graduating from Whitmer High School in 2013. Nigel “ruled the roost” as a Wisconsin Badger before earning a B.A. in Finance and Investment Baking in 2017. Multiple NBA teams sampled Nigel’s skills including the Knicks, the Lakers, the Raptors and the Kings before signing significant contracts abroad. Nigel is has been playing for Fenerbahçe Beko in Istanbul, Turkey since 2022.

Melvin Newbern – Basketball
During his senior year at Scott High School Melvin Newbern averaged 23.4 ppg leading the Bulldogs to the city, sectional and district championships. Named Ohio’s Player of the Year, the Golden Gophers offered this National Basketball Coaches Association All-American a scholarship to University of Minnesota. “Tough as nails,” Melvin played with several teams in the CBA and with the Detroit Pistons. Since his basketball retirement, Newbern remains fully engaged with basketball while serving his community of Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

Theresa Early – Track
Theresa Early still holds the Scott High School record in the 800 and 1600 meter run. Kentucky State University immediately offered her a scholarship in Track and Field. Holding a M.Ed. she is a Leadership Oakland XVIII Graduate (Michigan). Ms. Early is currently a Policy Analyst in the District of Columbia. Ms. Early’s honors included membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated and she is a former United Way of Greater Toledo/Mental Health Board Fellow.

Monclova Township Trustee Barbara Lang, Che Snelling, George Snelling and LC Commissioner Anita Lopez

Che’ Snelling – Track
Che Snelling was once described as one of the most versatile athletes in Rogers High School history. This talented athlete – led the Rams as a quarterback, demonstrated his gifts on the hardwood while locking up the school’s pole vault record for the last 25 years before heading on to Kentucky State University. Snelling – a FedEx manager – is completely immersed in the community as a girls track team coach at Sylvania Southview and a defensive backfield coach at St. Johns Jesuit High School.

Established in 2004, The African American Legacy Project of Northwest Ohio is a 501(c)3 organization which pledges to stimulate the intellectual, socioeconomic and participatory growth in communities wherein African Americans reside.

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