Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Final Rites for Leon Jamison-Tennessee State All-American
ATLANTA-Those of us who got to know former Tennessee State All American grid star Leon Jamison, we can’t recall a time we ever saw him angry. Even former high school student-athletes here in Atlanta who came under his wing in the late 50s through the 90s are hard to remember when they didn’t see him with a big smile on his face and an a word of encouragement.
Saturday, January 3, hundreds of former athletes, teachers, fraternity members, students and friends packed out southwest Atlanta’s Ben Hill United Methodist church to say a final goodbye to brother Jamison, who transitioned Christmas day after a lengthy illness.
His fraternity members from Kappa Alpha Psi joined church officers and former coaching colleagues lining the entrance to the church sanctuary as mourners entered to pass Jamison’s casket and pay final respects. Included among family mourners was his brother Silas Jamison, also a celebrated athlete at Atlanta’s Booker T Washington High school. Both Jamison’s were four letter athletes at the historic high school and both got shots in professional football and baseball. In 1960, Silas signed a bonus contract with the Philadelphih Phillies. Later, he attended Morehouse College.
Surprising to some, Jamison is actually a native Mississippian. Born April 2, 1935, he hailed from Pheba, in northwest Mississippi’s Clay County not far from West Point. The third of eight siblings, his family moved early-on to Atlanta. In 1947, he was enrolled in Atlanta’s historic Booker T Washington High School and became one of its most celebrated athletes under legendary Georgia Hall of Fame head coach Leslie Cornelius (LC) Baker. He became a virtual master in four sports, namely football, basketball, track and field and baseball. His focus, however, was on football. After graduating in the class of 1952, he matriculated to Tennessee State University. In four years, he excelled, becoming the team’s co-captain in 1956, the same year the “Big Blue” Tigers captured the national black college football championship. Forty years later, he and his teammates were inducted into the TSU Football Hall of Fame. Jamison’s play was so stellar it earned him a ton of accolades including prestigious placement on the Pittsburgh Courier (weekly national newspaper) All-American team of 1957. In those days, making the Courier All-American team meant you had arrived!
Upon graduation in 1957, he tried out with two professional grid teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and then the Chicago Cardinals. With the latter team (now the Arizona Cardinals), he survived the final cut.
He returned to Atlanta in 1959 and began a 30 year love affair with the Atlanta Public School system, as teacher, assistant and head football and baseball coach at Luther Judson Price High School, Washington High School and eventually becoming a vice- principal before officially retiring in 1998. He spent the evening of his years remaining the devoted husband of 56 years to the former Annie Pearl Benton of Atlanta, father to his four children, granddad to their children and an employee on the staff of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
Many of the testaments to his on-line obituary had the affectionate flavor and memories like these: “Coach Jamison was my football coach in 1967-68. He gave me encouragement and taught me much”….“ Coach Jamison, you were truly a gem”…”So kind and wonderful. Glad I met him along the way”….“You were one of the greatest coaches to grace the playing field”(see more condolences by visiting www.legacy.com/guestbooks/leon-jamison-condolences)
SIAC HOOPS: Both Tony Lamarr’s Clark-AU Panthers and Grady Brewer’s Morehouse 5 posted significant conference wins Monday, January 5 in separate home games .
For the “House” it was their second conference victory since the push toward SIAC tournament time commenced on January 3. The first day back from the holidays, the Marooners knocked off defending conference tourney champ Tuskegee 79-66 largely behind the play of freshman Tyrus Walker, junior Robert Askew and senior Austin Anderson who combined to score 47 of the school’s 79 winning points.
Monday, Morehouse took on the Spring Hill College Badgers of Mobile, Alabama, newest member of the SIAC and defeated them 59-32. It gave Brewer another peak at his bench strength. Junior Bryan Thomas, a junior college transfer, bucketed 16 points in the win. Junior Tyrone Brown also snatched 12 rebounds. In fact, 43 of Morehouse’s 59 winning points came off the bench.
Across the Atlanta University Center campus, CAU captured its first conference win of the season 79-70 over Stillman January 5 at LS Epps Gym. It also allowed the Panther cagers to break their four game losing streak. The Panthers placed four in double figures led by junior Najee Whitehead’s 23 points, senior Earl Lawrence’s 12, sophomore Derek Harper’s 18 and up bench strength from senior Jonell Youngblood’s 11.
Both CAU and Morehouse take to the road the rest of this week. The Tigers take on Lane January 8, Miles on Saturday and visit LeMoyne-Owen next Monday before returning home January 15 to take on Stillman.
CAU will take on Miles January 8, then travel to Frankfort Kentucky to battle Kentucky State Saturday and then journey to Jackson Tennessee to take on Lane before returning to Atlanta January 15 against Tuskegee.
Meanwhile, the Lady Panthers of CAU split a conference twin-bill to open the SIAC’s second season. They dropped a 60-57 decision to the Magicians of Lemoyne-Owen College January 3 but rebounded the following Monday to defeat Stillman 84-76. Three lady Panthers finished in double figures, led by junior Mykala Jones’ 32 points, followed by junior Siera Bubb’s 11 and senior Ivana Spather’s 10. Like their male counterparts, the lady Panthers under 13-year head coach Vanessa Moore , now hit the road for three games before returning home January 15 against Tuskegee.
In the rest of the conference, men’s eastern division leader Paine with their leading scorer Denzel Dillingham visits Tuskeegee Jan 8, Lemoyne-Owen the 10th, and Kentucky State the 12th. West leading LeMoyne-Owen with leading scorer Daeq Mitchell-Fields, hosts Benedict the 8th, Paine the 10th, then Morehouse on the 12th. I
In women’s action, west leading Kentucky State with their leading scorer Shanquanda Wiggins host Claflin the 8th, Clark-AU the 10th, then travel to Paine the 12th. East leading Benedict and leading scorer and rebounder London Richardson visits LeMoyne the 8th, Spring Hill the 10th, then Paine on the 12th.
XTRA POINTS: At some point, I will have to call James “Iron Mike” White formerly of Albany State to ask why he retired from one D-2 school to travel north to Columbia South Carolina to jump right back into the head coaching fire at Benedict. I could speculate but I want to talk to him first…
…Former FAMU players I’ve talked to tell me their alma mater’s new head coach, Alex Wood is “the bomb” and is expected to turn the fortunes of the orange and green….
Speaking of bombs, over-the-road truckers, which include my stepson Huey “Buck” Collier, are finding Quik Trip (QT) service stations on their extensive travels. “They are the best and have the lowest diesel fuel prices in the country,” said Huey, who is 38 and a 15 year veteran of the 18-wheelers. This writer has also taken to more car travel to get to HBCU sporting events and echo my son’s comments about QT. I am a stickler about clean toilets, abundant items and friendly service and I have gotten that (so far) at every QT I’ve stopped. The 56 year old company has 690 stores in 11 states. Buck says the company needs even more outlets. To find one, visit www.quiktrip.com .
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net