What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Atoy Wilson: the first black skater to win a national title

His first coach was Mabel Fairbanks

8:48 AMAtoy Wilson is the first African-American to win a national title in figure skating.

Born: 1951 or 1952

His story: Wilson, who started in gymnastics, turned to figure skating after seeing the Ice Follies when he was 8 years old. His first coach was Mabel Fairbanks, who helped him become the first black member of the Los Angeles Skating Club. In 1965, a 13-year-old Wilson became the first black skater to compete in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, placing second in the novice men’s division. He returned to the competition the following year, and this time he won the men’s novice division to become the first black skater to earn a national championship. Wilson turned pro after he finished high school, touring with Holiday on Ice and the same Ice Follies that fueled his interest in the sport.

Fast fact: Wilson worked in production accounting in the television industry after retiring as a performer.

Quotable: “Mabel was the one that fought in the back rooms, getting this little, black, talented kid skater out there,” Wilson told icenetwork.com. “I was impervious to it because I was skating. I had to learn the jumps — the Lutz, the flips, the double Salchows and the Axels — and I had to learn the figures. My mind was wrapped around that.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Doug Williams among HBCU legends in NFL Network documentary Friday night

‘Breaking Ground: A Story of HBCU Football and the NFL’ takes in-depth look at the legacy of 4 great players

4:55 PMDoug Williams knows that when February rolls around, he’s got to keep his phone charged — ’cause e’rybody and their momma will be calling to get his thoughts on all things black, and definitely all things historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).

“I think it’s a little old, especially for guys like myself,” said Williams, the Grambling State legend and Black College Football Hall of Fame inductee. “The older you get, you realize that it’s not about one month — it’s about 365 days a year. It’s not like we go into a cocoon after February is over with. We’re still around — still doing what we do. I get a lot of calls during [the month of February], and you hate to say, ‘No — I’m not gon’ do it,’ but my things is, I’m black in December too.”

This isn’t to say Williams, who just celebrated the 30th anniversary of Washington’s Super Bowl XXII victory over the Denver Broncos, feels burdened with carrying the torch for African-Americans during Black History Month or that he bemoans being every reporter’s go-to source when the topic is HBCUs. He understands that one month can never tell the full story.

“The reality is I can be gone every day in February — doing any number of Black History Month things,” said Williams, who was on his way to Atlanta for the Black College Football Hall of Fame induction festivities Saturday when he spoke to The Undefeated. “But February is also a big month for what I do in my day job – with the all-star games and getting ready for the draft and the combine. I just can’t pick up and go everywhere people want me to go,” continued Williams, a senior vice president of player personnel for the Redskins.

When Williams’ phone did ring toward the tail end of last season, and he was told he’d be interviewed for a one-hour documentary about NFL legends and groundbreakers who attended HBCUs, he was all too happy to participate. The process of getting the narrative right hasn’t always been easy, Williams noted.

“Every article in America was written about ‘The First Black quarterback,’ ‘Washington’s Black Quarterback,’ ‘The Way of the Black Quarterback,’ ” Williams told Raiders.com. “I didn’t go to the Super Bowl as a black quarterback. I went to the Super Bowl as the Redskins’ quarterback, who just happened to be black,” said Williams, the first African-American quarterback to start in a Super Bowl. “At the same time, I understood the pride, the dignity and the history of what was about to happen.”

Through interviews and profiles of four notable NFL HBCU alums — Williams, Jerry Rice, Mel Blount and Marquette King — Breaking Ground: A Story of HBCU Football and the NFL takes an in-depth look at the legacy of HBCUs within the league, airing Friday at 8 p.m. EST on NFL Network.

Breaking Ground centers on Blount’s trip back to Southern University, where he reflects on his time there with his son Akil and former teammates. The special also remembers Rice, a legend at Mississippi Valley State, Williams and the NFL’s only current black punter, Marquette King of the Oakland Raiders, who graduated from Fort Valley State and spoke about changing the way people view his position.

The documentary is narrated by Howard University alum and Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.

Williams understands the importance of getting the story right, which is why he will continue to answer the phone.

“I understand this is our month,” Williams said with a chuckle before turning serious. “The sad part is knowing that the one month that they dedicate to people who’ve done so much for this country, a lot of schools don’t even want to teach that.”

Arizona safety Antoine Bethea is Black College Football Hall of Fame’s pro player of the year

He’ll pick up the award at the Hall’s induction of seven greats this weekend

10:32 AMThe Black College Football Hall of Fame has chosen Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea as the inaugural recipient of the Pro Player of the Year Award. It will be awarded annually to the most outstanding professional football player from a historically black college or university (HBCU).

Bethea attended Howard University and has played in the NFL for 12 seasons after being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2006.

He spent his first eight years in Indianapolis, then three in San Francisco, before signing a three-year contract with Arizona in 2017. In his first year with the Cardinals, Bethea had a career-high five interceptions to go along with 57 tackles.

He’ll receive the award Saturday at the Black College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame. Seven former HBCU greats will be inducted into the Hall this weekend, including former players Raymond Chester, Harold Carmichael, Leon Lewis, Greg Lloyd, Everson Walls, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson and coach Bill Hayes.

“This award was established to help showcase the immense talent of our current Black College Football players at the highest level,” said James “Shack” Harris, Hall co-founder and 2012 inductee.

“On behalf of the Black College Football Hall of Fame trustees and selection committee, we congratulate Antoine on this historic accomplishment,” said Doug Williams, Hall co-founder and 2011 inductee. “Antoine is a great role model and inspiration for our youth across the country.”

Mabel Fairbanks: The first African-American in the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame

She made her mark as a coach

10:32 AMMabel Fairbanks was the first African-American inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Born: Nov. 14, 1915

Died: Sept. 29, 2001

Her story: Fairbanks, of African-American and Seminole descent, was born in the Florida Everglades. She was orphaned at age 8 and moved to New York City with her brother. Her sister-in-law did not accept her, so she ended up sleeping on a park bench. A woman gave her a job baby-sitting at her apartment above Central Park, and that’s when everything changed for her. Fairbanks watched the skaters in Central Park and became interested in the sport. She bought an oversize pair of skates, stuffed them to make them fit and began skating in the park. When she tried to get into a local ice rink, she was denied because of her race. Nevertheless, she persisted, and a manager finally let her inside. Professional skaters gave her free lessons. She moved to California in the 1940s and performed in nightclub skating shows. She traveled with the Ice Capades and performed with the Ice Follies. She was not allowed into the U.S. Olympic trials or any competitive figure skating events. She later became a coach and worked with skaters such as Atoy Wilson, the first black skater to win a U.S. title, and pairs champions Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. She pushed the Culver City Skating Club in Los Angeles to admit its first black member in 1965. She made the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1977 and was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in the coach category after her death.

Fast fact: Part of what fueled Fairbanks’ passion for skating was watching a Sonja Henie movie in the 1930s. Henie would later bar Fairbanks from competing in an ice show.

Quotable: “If I had gone to the Olympics and become a star, I would not be who I am today,” Fairbanks told the Los Angeles Times.

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

How the Wades won the NBA trade deadline

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union are going home to Miami — perhaps for good

9:34 AMAs the dust settles from one of the wildest NBA trade deadlines in recent history, the appropriate questions are: Who won? And who lost? Maybe it’s the Detroit Pistons, who are 5-0 since Blake Griffin’s arrival. Perhaps it’s Magic Johnson, who cleared cap space for two max players. Or maybe it’s a guy who didn’t move at all: As Drake says, Like I’m Lou Will, I just got the new deal. Lou Williams did in fact just sign a three-year, $24 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Clippers. Lou always wins.

Yet, the real winner(s) of the NBA trade deadline are power couple Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union. They’re going home.

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🛬 Wheels down in Wade County. The #R3TURN.

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Union wins for many reasons, not the least of which is that she is a survivor. Union is known for her patented grin-and-dimples combo, but her real life has been anything but all smiles. Rather than keep her pain bottled inside, Union speaks regularly about sexual assault, racism and gender equality. She is also shooting both a two-hour film finale of BET’s Being Mary Jane and an NBC pilot for a spinoff of the Bad Boys movie franchise. And Union’s 2017 memoir, We’re Going To Need More Wine, is a New York Times best-seller.

Not for nothing, too, Union moved from Miami to Chicago to Cleveland with her husband in a short span of time. So when the news broke on Feb. 8 that the family would be moving back to Miami (where they were married in 2014), there was an unbridled sense of joy and relief that radiated from Union’s tweet (she has close to 4 million followers).

Which brings us to her husband, Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. It’s unclear how much longer the 36-year-old, whom Union mercilessly teases about his age, will play professional basketball. But if this move is indeed Wade’s near end of the playing road, he, by nearly every metric, has won big time. Wade is largely accepted as the third-greatest shooting guard to ever live, behind only Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The fifth overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft is the best shot-blocking guard of all time. He’s a three-time champion and a Finals MVP. And when it comes down to it, Wade, along with Pat Riley, staged the greatest coup in NBA free-agent history when he helped bring Chris Bosh and LeBron James to Miami in the summer of 2010. They went to four straight Finals, winning two, and the team will go down as the most provocative and culture-changing team since the Showtime Lakers.

Hold on. Not done yet. Wade also was able to play in his hometown of Chicago and got a crazy amount to do so, despite being out of his prime. Wade is watching his oldest son, Zaire, blossom into a promising young hooper. He also secured a buyout from those same Bulls, only to reunite in Cleveland with his best friend — the Laverne to his Shirley, the Daniel Kaluuya to his Lil Rel Howery, the Martin Lawrence to his Eddie Murphy, the Snoop Dogg to his Dr. Dre — in James. James had even provided a foreshadowing to the Wades’ return to the 305 area code: He posted a picture of himself, Wade and Heat lifer Udonis Haslem on Feb. 1.

With Thursday’s purge, Wade will presumably finish his career in Miami with absolutely no pressure on him — with the Bulls still paying him. And he’s doing so as an unquestioned first-ballot Hall of Famer. About the only thing left to do is re-win Papi Le Batard’s love. Gangstas don’t die, Jadakiss once said, they get chubby and move to Miami. That option is back on the table for Dwyane and Gabby. And likely minus the weight gain.

Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl parade a dream come true after nightmarish 58-year championship drought

We kept tabs on all things Eagles parade on social media

4:59 PMSeveral million Philadelphia Eagles fans turned out on Thursday to witness and enjoy the Eagles’ very first Super Bowl parade.

The team won the NFL Championship in 1960, but for 58 years, the City of Brotherly Love was denied a Lombardi trophy, going 0 for 2 in its only Super Bowl appearances.

Fast-forward to Sunday, where the Eagles redeemed their 2005 loss to the New England Patriots with a 41-33 victory over the Pats in Minneapolis in Super Bowl LII.

Eagles fans came from far and wide – on 4 a.m. trains and with family members’ ashes on planes – to take part in Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl parade.

Think you missed something? No worries! Here’s the chatter from social media.

Howard’s legendary athletic trainer Milton Miles dies

Former Bison coach Lincoln Phillips describes him as ‘the glue’ for the NCAA title team

4:09 PMLincoln Phillips can chuckle at the thought today, but the task of wrangling the diverse personalities on his star-studded 1970s Howard University soccer teams was no laughing matter at the time. “You’re talking about trying to get Jamaicans and Trinidadians and Africans on the same page at the same time,” recalled Phillips, who coached at Howard from 1970-1980 and led the Bison to its first – and still only – NCAA Division I national championship in 1974.

Phillips’ Bison teams featured players from countries such as Bermuda, Guyana, Ghana, Nigeria, Eritrea, Trinidad and Tobago, Ethiopia and Jamaica. While blessed with talent and a flair never before seen in America, it was Phillips, who was only a few years older than some of his players, who was tasked with bringing them together.

“That was no easy feat, and for a young coach at the time, you had to find creative and sometimes unconventional ways to get them to agree to come together,” said Phillips, who was 29 when he became head coach in ’70. “I couldn’t have been successful without the help and support from some wonderful people.”

Count Milton Miles Jr. among them; Miles, who was African-American, was Howard’s longtime athletic trainer and played a massive role in helping the Bison reach two NCAA Division I championships. He died this week at 87 after a long battle with bladder cancer, having served as Howard’s athletic trainer from 1970 until his in retirement in 2002.

“He was the athletic trainer for all of Howard’s teams,” said Marilyn Miles, his wife of 54 years. “But soccer was his favorite.”

Phillips, a former army sergeant in his native Trinidad and Tobago, was hardly short on discipline, but he soon learned that he needed more than that to create harmony – on and off the pitch.

“Milt helped me to understand and deal with potential chaos situations within our multitalented teams, because the players all loved and confided in ‘Uncle Milty,’ ” the coach recalled.

Ian Bain, who captained Phillips’ all-star 1974 team, agrees: “We spent so much time with him, in the tape room, in the world pool, on road trips – that in many ways he became was our gate-keeper. That made him really important to our existence. His consistence and constancy made him really important to us.”

Howard’s soccer exploits were told in the Spike Lee-executive produced documentary Redemption Song, which recalled the fast-paced and gripping tale of the 1971 and 1974 national championship-winning Bison teams that had to overcome issues – often racial – bigger than themselves to achieve greatness.

“Milt’s uncanny ability to analyze these tense and potentially explosive situations was a great asset to me as a coach,” continued Phillips, who compiled a 116-19 record as Howard’s coach and was enshrined in the Howard Athletic Hall of Fame, along with both teams, in September 2014. “He was the glue in all the Howard soccer teams – the comforter to all the players when they were down. He healed them physically and emotionally. He was a dear and close friend to me and the players and most of all, a consummate gentleman.”

Miles’ death is the third in recent years from that glorified era. Kenneth “Kendo” Ilodigwe, who scored the lone goal in the 1974 quadruple overtime thriller versus soccer power Saint Louis University, died last March. Keith “Bronco” Aqui, Howard’s goal-scoring forward and star on Phillips’ 1971 team, died in late 2016.

Miles is survived by his wife Marilyn; two children, Jenifer and Milton Miles III; and one grandson, Justin.

The Cavs blew up their squad — and Twitter

Cleveland traded six players and a draft pick before the NBA trade deadline

3:29 PMFor the foreseeable future, Feb. 8, 2018, will be remembered as Judgment Day in Cleveland. In a matter of 61 minutes in the lead-up to Thursday’s annual NBA trade deadline, the Cavaliers dealt six players and one draft pick to three teams in return for four players and a draft pick as part of a complete roster rebuild less than a week before the start of the All-Star break. As Cleveland blew up its entire squad, Twitter fingers percolated and popcorn was ready.

The swift moves executed by Cavs general manager Koby Altman began at 12:05 p.m. EST, when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that the Los Angeles Lakers were sending point guard Jordan Clarkson and power forward Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland for power forward Channing Frye, point guard Isaiah Thomas (whom the Cavs received from the Boston Celtics in the blockbuster Kyrie Irving trade last summer) and a 2018 first-round draft pick. Thomas’ career in The Land lasted only 15 games, after he sat out the first few months of the season with a hip injury.

At 1 p.m., the Cavs sent point guard Derrick Rose and forward Jae Crowder to the Utah Jazz, and guard Iman Shumpert to the Sacramento Kings, in a three-team deal that landed forward Rodney Hood and point guard George Hill in Cleveland.

Six minutes later, Cleveland traded future Hall of Fame shooting guard Dwyane Wade to the Miami Heat for a second-round draft pick.

The 36-year-old Wade, who was drafted by the Heat in 2003, will presumably finish his career in Miami, and his wife, Gabrielle Union, couldn’t be happier.

Neither could Wade’s now former teammate (again) LeBron James, whom he played with in Miami from 2010 to 2014.

Now, only four players from Cleveland’s 2016 NBA championship-winning squad — James, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson — are left on the team. So what does this all really mean for the Cavs? Perhaps the franchise is preparing for a future without James, who could opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. Or maybe Cleveland is just reloading its tainted roster with a crop of younger, more athletic and more defensive-minded players who will be needed if the team plans to make a run to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year.

Regardless, Thursday left us all feeling like Earl Smith (aka J.R.) …

Few remember the Orangeburg Massacre, which happened 50 years ago on Feb. 8, 1968

It was one of the first deadly confrontations on a college campus

2:30 PMFifty years ago Thursday, three students died on the campus of South Carolina State University in the Orangeburg Massacre. Yet, years later, few people know about it.

On Thursday, the university and others honored their legacy and its role in the protest that led up to the massacre in a commemoration, Remembering History, Inspiring Hope and Embracing Healing. With students, faculty, community leaders, law enforcement and residents, they hope to remember “one of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina” with a renewed commitment to optimism, inspiration and understanding.

On the night of Feb. 8, 1968, hundreds of students had gathered on campus for a third night of protests after a long series of clashes with local law enforcement and politicians. They were facing dozens of South Carolina highway troopers and National Guard troops, with military vehicles and a heavy law enforcement presence.

The protests started because of racial segregation at a local bowling alley.

Harry Floyd, owner of the segregated bowling alley in Orangeburg, S.C., over which civil rights demonstrations ended in the death of three students, points to the “privately owned” sign on the front door, Feb. 10, 1968.

AP Photo

South Carolina State University students Marvis President, right, and Kyle Williams, left, take part in a re-enactment Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008, of the picketing of a local bowling alley that led to the death of three college students and wounding of 28 others as part of a 40th commemoration ceremony of the Orangeburg Massacre in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

The troopers, saying they heard sniper fire, started shooting at the students. Amid the running and screaming in the ensuing chaos, S.C. State students Samuel Hammond and Henry Smith died along with Delano Middleton, and 27 others were injured.

The Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center, South Carolina State’s on-campus arena, was renamed in honor of the three victims. It was opened the same year as the massacre.

It was one of the first deadly confrontations between college students and law enforcement in the United States, and it happened two years before the Kent State University shootings and two months before the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Orangeburg, located between Columbia and Charleston, is the home of S.C. State University and Claflin College, both historically black colleges and universities. Students from both schools were involved in the protests.

‘Teyana & Iman’ bring their vision of black love to VH1

The new reality show debuts Feb. 19

2:07 PMIt’s like Black History Month and Valentine’s Day all rolled into one: Teyana & Iman, a new VH1 series following the lives of Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert, will debut Feb. 19 at 10 p.m.

Taylor is the dancer who made such a memorable splash in the Kanye West video for “Fade” in fall 2016, which cemented her status as #bodygoals for pretty much anyone with eyes.

Her husband, Shumpert, is a guard who the Cleveland Cavaliers just traded to the Sacramento Kings. The eight episodes will offer a closer look at the couple and their baby, Junie. Among the stops? New York Fashion Week.

“When I look at reality, it don’t look like reality to me,” Shumpert says into the camera for a promo of the series. He’s seated on a white couch wearing nothing but gray sweatpants and a black and brown striped fur coat, next to Taylor, who’s kitted out in a red fur and matching slides.

What? You don’t have a fur coat that you just wear when you’re kicking it around the house?

Seba Johnson: the first black woman to ski at the Olympics

She competed at age 14 to become the youngest Alpine racer in Olympic history

12:05 PMSeba Johnson became the first black woman and youngest Alpine racer to ski at the Olympics when she competed for the U.S. Virgin Islands at age 14 in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.

Born: May 1, 1973.

Her story: Johnson was born in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her family moved around, living in New Hampshire, Maine and Nevada. She began skiing at age 7. By age 14, she had competed in the giant slalom at her first Olympics. She became the first black skier to place in the top 30 in international competition at age 15 in the World Alpine Ski Championships. She returned to the Olympics in Albertville, France, in 1992, competing in the slalom and giant slalom. She retired that same year to work toward a degree in fine arts at Howard University. She has worked as an actor and a model.

Fast fact: Johnson is a longtime vegan and animal rights activist.

Quotable: “The first time I was on skis, I loved it and wanted to become a ski racer,” Johnson told United Press International.

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Kobe Bryant wasn’t originally on board with retro’ing his classic Nike Zoom Kobe 1

The Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Proto is set for Feb. 17 — Michael Jordan’s birthday

11:21 AM 

Kobe Bryant’s career revival in the mid-2000s, at least partially, can be traced back to the arrival of his signature Nike Zoom Kobe 1s. The sneakers made their illustrious debut on Christmas 2005. The ’05-’06 season was quite the roller coaster for Bryant. Although the year would be his final of the controversial yet incredibly successful No. 8 era, and the season would end on an ugly note in Phoenix, Bryant rewrote the record books that season, averaging 35.4 points. The Zoom Kobe 1s first graced the stage only five days after Kobe’s electric 62 points in three quarters versus Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. And, yes, they were on his feet when his iconic 81-point onslaught took place a month later against the Toronto Raptors.

Courtesy of Nike

Now they’re back. Kobe teased the prospect of an upcoming retro line on Instagram last week. Toronto Raptors All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan donned the shoes recently in a big-time win over their divisional and conference rivals the Boston Celtics. The Compton native and self-admitted Bryant fanatic will don the sneakers again tonight when the Raptors host the now Kristaps Porzingis-less New York Knicks. While retro-ing classic sneakers seems like a foregone conclusion for most iconic lines (i.e. Jordan’s, LeBron’s), Bryant initially opposed the idea. “It just didn’t fit right with everything I stood for, with the Mamba Brand,” he said.

Courtesy of Nike

Needless to say, cooler heads prevailed and Kobe was won over with the Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Proto, in essence the shoe in which Kobe terrorized defenders over a decade ago but with updated technology. The shoes hit nike.com and select retailers on Feb. 17 — more popularly known in the sports world as Michael Jordan’s 55th birthday. Even in retirement, Kobe Bean Bryant remains a (strategic) savage.

Maurice Robinson heads Grambling’s recruiting class

Three-star recruit is a big get for the Tigers

9:09 PMLSU recruited him to play quarterback, while the reigning national champions at Alabama had visions of him roaming their defensive secondary.

But with major FBS programs knocking at his door, Maurice Robinson opted to play football next season at a historically black institution: Grambling.

After verbally committing to the Tigers two weeks ago, Robinson made it official during Wednesday’s national signing day.

Robinson will play in the defensive backfield at Grambling despite the fact that he threw for 1,686 yards and 18 touchdowns last season at Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama. The three-star recruit is a big get for Grambling, which looks to improve from last year’s 11-2 record, which included a trip to the Celebration Bowl (where the Tigers lost to North Carolina A&T).

Some of the other commitments to Grambling that were made official Wednesday:

Sundiata Anderson, 6-4, defensive end, Atlanta, Georgia: A three-sport athlete at North Clayton High School, Anderson was a first-team all-county player and earned a spot on the All-Region 4-AAAA team.

T.J. Hawthorne, 6-2, defensive back, Springhill, Louisiana: Hawthorne will play safety at Grambling after a career at North Webster High School where he earned all-district honors while playing running back, wide receiver and defensive back.

Matthew Cormier, 6-3, linebacker, Lake Charles, Louisiana: Another recruit staying close to home, Cormier is a hard-hitting linebacker who was a first team all-district selection.

Keilon Elder, 5-9, running back, Duncanville, Texas: Elder rushed for 1,300 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in his final season at Duncanville High School. He’ll be a legacy student at Grambling, where his father, Ray Elder, played tailback from 1989-93.


North Carolina A&T University, the Celebration Bowl champions, appear to have added enough firepower to keep them in the mix in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) next season.

Darius Graves, 5-8, running back, Greensboro, North Carolina: Graves was expected to be a contributor at the University of North Carolina last year after the walk-on led all rushers in the spring game. But he didn’t suit up last season in Chapel Hill and now resurfaces with the Aggies.

Wiz Vaughn, 5-10, wide receiver, Wilmington, North Carolina: Definitely an early pick for the all-name team, Vaughn was a dual threat on offense at New Hanover High School, as he caught 97 passes for 1,487 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed 87 times for 737 yards and 17 touchdowns. He helped lead New Hanover to the Class 3-A state championship game.

Chris Williams, 6-1, linebacker, Laurinburg, North Carolina: A standout defensive player at Scotland County High School, Williams — along with Georgia-bound running back Zamir White, a five-star recruit — helped lead his team to a 12-2 record and a spot in the 4A state championship game. Williams was named the team’s defensive MVP.

Tim Williams, 6-3, offensive lineman, Laurinburg, North Carolina: Yes, Tim and Chris Williams are brothers. Twin brothers. Tim Williams, who weighs 300 pounds, opened up many of the holes that White, the nation’s top running back recruit, ran through.


Coach Mike London has added a few pieces that should complement quarterback Caylin Newton, who led the Bison to a second-place finish in the MEAC.

Jalen Smith, 6-1, defensive back/wide receiver, Virginia Beach, Virginia: Depending on where he plays, Smith might emerge as a new target for Newton. A star at Ocean Lakes High School, Smith is rated as the No. 14 player in the state. Smith had verbally committed to Navy in the fall before announcing that he’s attending Howard.

Jayde Pierre, 6-2, defensive/offensive line, Sterling, Virginia: Pierre was an early commit to Temple and had interest from Arizona and Boston College. But the 310-pound Pierre decided to stay close to his home in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, where he played at Dominion High School. 247Sports.com had Pierre ranked No. 33 in Virginia.

Here’s how some of the African-American head coaches in Division I have fared on national signing day:

David Shaw, Stanford: Shaw was able to sign Tanner McKee, one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, who chose Stanford over Alabama and Texas. But he won’t get the 6-6 McKee immediately, as the devout Mormon will take a two-year mission before attending Stanford in 2020.

James Franklin, Penn State: A program nearly destroyed by the Jerry Sandusky scandal in 2011 has finished in the top 10 the past two years and just came through with one of the top five recruiting classes. Signees include linebacker Micah Parsons (considered the top recruit in Pennsylvania, and a top-10 national recruit from Harrisburg High School), Justin Shorter (the nation’s top-ranked wide receiver, from South Brunswick High School in New Jersey) and Ricky Slade (a five-star all-purpose back from Hylton High School in Virginia).

‘The Plug’ podcast: ‘Black Panther’ details — plus ‘GLOW’s’ Sydelle Noel (Episode 9)

The Philadelphia Eagles make history — and Kevin Hart lives the dream

3:23 PM

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The pleasure is all ours as we welcome a very, very special guest in the ever-so-talented Sydelle Noel. You may have heard about this film she’s in that hits theaters next week — Black Panther? Noel gives us the inside scoop on the movie, including her experiences with members of the star-studded cast.

From there, the squad and I pay homage to the Philadelphia Eagles, who of course just captured their first Super Bowl in franchise history. This includes us saluting comedian Kevin Hart living any fan’s dream — even if that included him trying to get on stage to hoist the Lombardi trophy. We also chat about the latest NBA narratives, including the free fall of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app! We’ll be back next week to celebrate all things Panther and NBA All-Star Weekend in the City of Angels!

Previously: The Plug, ‘Super Bowl Time: Who Ya Got?’ (Episode 8): Super Bowl Sunday is upon us

Andre Horton: the first black men’s skier on the U.S. Alpine team

His mother introduced him to the sport at age 5

2:42 PMAndre Horton became the first black men’s skier to make the U.S. Alpine ski team in 2001.

Born: Oct. 4, 1979

His story: Andre Horton was born in Anchorage, Alaska, to a white mother and a black father. His mother, Elsena, moved to Alaska from Idaho, where she was an avid skier. She introduced Andre to the sport when he was 5 years old, and his younger sister Suki took up skiing at age 3. Horton started as a Nordic skier, which includes cross-country skiing, before switching to Alpine (downhill). He skied with Mount Bachelor Ski Educational Foundation before earning a spot on the U.S. ski team’s development team. By 2002, he and Suki were the top-ranked African-American ski racers in the country. Horton retired in 2004, citing new opportunities as well as the financial strain of the sport. He finished fourth in the super G and sixth in the downhill in his final U.S. Alpine Championships that same year.

Fast fact: Horton once worked part time at the Anchorage Daily News as a photographer.

Quotable: “I’ve made some black people cry because they couldn’t believe I was racing down a course at a world-class level,” Horton told Ski Racing Journal. “Because they could never do it when they were growing up. That’s my quiet smile, as I call it.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Kendrick Lamar, TDE continue to remain top dawgs of music videos with ‘All The Stars’

The visual is the lead single off the highly anticipated ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack

10:01 AM

There’s a slight comparison to be made between the decline in the quality of music videos and the decline of the back-to-the-basket game for big men in the NBA. Back in the day, non-Michael Jordan-led teams needed a dominant center to be competitive. And back in the day, MTV, BET, VH1 and The Box were the one-stop shop for all things music videos. And while videos can be shot oftentimes with nothing more than a camera phone these days — yielding both fruitful and not-so-fruitful results — the allure of the music video has taken on a new look in part because there are so many to sift from and through.

Yet, make no mistake about this reality. No one’s doing videos better than Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) right now — at the very least in a dead heat with Jay Z’s 4:44 videos. About the only slip-up is SZA’s Solange-directed “The Weekend” visual, which left a huge opportunity on the table for not following the song’s storyline. Kendrick Lamar’s batting 1,000 right now though. Look no further than the visuals for his Grammy-winning album DAMN., a la “LOYALTY.” with Rihanna, “LOVE.” with Zacari, “ELEMENT.” and “DNA.” Many of those were fueled by Dave Meyers and the little homies, the directorial minds behind TDE’s newest video for “All The Stars.” The record is the lead single from the Black Panther-inspired soundtrack set to drop Friday. The video itself, however, is a wicked elixir of next-level graphic designs, transitions and, most importantly, overt homages to the images, inspirations, history, power and pigment that make Black Panther one of the most anticipated movies of this century, if not of all time.

Already a hit song currently being spun on radio stations nationwide, “All the Stars'” video provides added depth that wasn’t there before. And with TDE paying such close attention to detail with how they present themselves visually, it leaves but one question. Could they really be on the verge of bringing back the long-since extinct concept of the movie soundtrack too?

Baseball great and HBCU alumnus Andre Dawson gets tournament named after him

The Dawson Classic in New Orleans pays homage to this FAMU graduate and Hall of Famer

4:06 PMBeginning this year, the MLB Urban Invitational, originally created to highlight baseball programs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), will be called the Andre Dawson Classic.

Dawson, who spent most of his 21-year major league career with the Chicago Cubs and the now-defunct Montreal Expos, is a graduate of Florida A&M University. Even with 12 knee surgeries, Dawson ended his career with a .279 batting average, 438 home runs, 1,591 RBIs and 314 stolen bases. His induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 makes Dawson one of only two HBCU alumni who have been enshrined.

“It is with the utmost appreciation that I take this opportunity to thank MLB for this honor,” Dawson said in a statement. “I am a product of an HBCU program that provided me an opportunity to pursue a college education while chasing a childhood dream. I am both honored and humbled to play a role in empowering students to be leaders in their communities and strive to improve and impact the lives of others.”

Since the invitational began 11 years ago, more than 25 HBCU players who have participated in the tournament have been selected in the MLB draft. This year’s classic will feature six HBCU teams, which is the highest number of participants since its inception in 2007. Participating schools include Alabama State, Alcorn State, Grambling State, Prairie View A&M, Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Classic, which runs from Feb. 16 to 18, will be split between the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy and the University of New Orleans’ Maestri Field. Two of the games on Feb. 17 will air live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. EST.

Jermaine Dupri makes history: He’s set to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame

The creative who has collaborated with Jay-Z, Usher, Mariah, Xscape and more gets his due

3:09 PMJermaine Dupri, the genius musical creative who soundtracked much of the 1990s and early 2000s, will be feted at this year’s Songwriters Hall of Fame. The producer, songwriter and MC becomes only the second rapper to be inducted into this prestigious group — Jay-Z, honored last year, was the first. Some of Dupri’s most indelible songs as songwriter/co-writer/producer/executive producer: Xscape’s “Just Kickin’ It,” Nelly’s “Grillz,” he and Jay-Z’s “Money Ain’t a Thang,” he and Mariah Carey’s “Sweetheart,” Jagged Edge’s “Where The Party At (Remix),” Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna” — and there are so many more. Dupri will join John Mellencamp, Alan Jackson and Kool & the Gang at the early-summer event.

Dupri is best known for igniting the Atlanta hip-hop and rhythm and blues scene — Kris Kross, Bow Wow, Jagged Edge and Xscape were all on his So So Def label. He dubbed the Def sound “The New Motown,” which was on point, considering that his artists were (and to a large degree still are) ubiquitous at barbecues, homecomings and urban and pop radio stations. The Songwriters Hall of Fame 49th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner will be held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 14 in New York.

Angela James: the first black woman in the Hockey Hall of Fame

The Canadian star followed NHL legend Grant Fuhr into Hall

7:28 AMAngela James is the second black player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, joining NHL goaltender Grant Fuhr. James was one of the first two women and the first openly gay player to enter the Hall in 2010, seven years after Fuhr’s induction.

Born: Dec. 22, 1964.

Her story: James was born in Toronto to a white Canadian mother and a black American father who moved to Canada from racially segregated Mississippi. James got her start in hockey in a boys house league. She played in a senior women’s league before moving on to Seneca College in Toronto, where she also starred in softball. She led the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association in scoring for three straight years despite transitioning to defense, and was dubbed “The Wayne Gretzky of Women’s Hockey” after scoring 50 goals and 73 points in a season. She went on to become an international star for Canada, winning four gold medals in four Women’s World Championships. James, however, was a controversial cut from the first women’s Olympic team in 1998. She played with the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League and the National Women’s Hockey League from 1993 until her retirement from competitive hockey in 2000. Along with the Hockey Hall of Fame, James also was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Fast fact: The highest-scoring player in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League has been awarded the Angela James Bowl since 2008.

Quotable: “Being a trailblazer is remarkable,” James told the Windy City Times. And hopefully I can help the hopes and dreams of other young girls in the game.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Eldridge Dickey: the first black quarterback drafted in the first round

The Tennessee State star never played his position in the pros

2:23 PMEldridge Dickey became the first black quarterback selected in the first round of the AFL or NFL drafts when the Oakland Raiders drafted the Tennessee State product 25th overall in 1968.

Born: Dec. 24, 1945

Died: May 22, 2000

His story: Dickey quarterbacked Tennessee State to the National Black College Football Championship during an undefeated season in 1966. He was a three-time HBCU All-American. Despite Dickey’s high draft selection, he never played a game at quarterback in pros. The Raiders, who drafted Alabama’s Ken Stabler that same year in the second round, moved Dickey to wide receiver to start the season. He never got over the switch. He caught just one pass in 1968 and played on special teams in 11 games. He didn’t catch another pass until 1971, the same year the Raiders cut him for dropping a possible touchdown. He finished his career with five catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Dickey signed with the USFL’s Denver Gold in 1984 but never played in a game. He battled substance abuse before later becoming a minister. He died from a stroke at age 54.

Fast fact: African-Americans were often denied the chance to play quarterback because teams thought they lacked the intelligence needed to play the position. Eldridge never took a snap under center in the pros despite a high IQ in the 130s.

Quotable: “If someday I become a star, I’d like to know I had to do it just the way I did – so when they write the book they’ll say, ‘He came in an All-American quarterback and they switched him and he had to earn it,'” Dickey told the Oakland Tribune.

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

On Super Bowl Sunday, The Fugees’ Pras Michel introduces Blacture

The Grammy winner is set to launch a haven for innovative minds

2:08 PMOn Super Bowl Sunday, Pras Michel’s message was simple: Be celebrated. Not tolerated. In a somewhat mysterious ad directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), the Grammy-winning artist introduced his new media platform, Blacture. The aim appears to be for Blacture to be “the epicenter for everything that is black — black excellence.” Michel wants the platform to be a safe space and creative haven for filmmakers, journalists and innovative minds. For now, a Facebook page is in place. An official launch date is set for next month.

The Super Bowl parties were very hot in ice-cold Minneapolis

J-Lo, Cardi B, Jamie Foxx and Shaq were among the guests and performers

9:56 AMMINNEAPOLIS — Despite freezing weather, football fans crisscrossed the Twin Cities for some spectacular nightlife. There were some dynamic and exclusive events, parties and concerts before what ended up being the Philadelphia Eagles upsetting the New England Patriots 41-33. If you were in the right places, you could catch Jamie Foxx playing waiter and Shaquille O’Neal doing his DJ thing. Justin Timberlake ended up drawing mixed reviews for his official halftime show, but Minneapolis, on the nights before the big game? Jennifer Lopez and Pink lit up the same venue, albeit it on different nights. And new superstar Cardi B graced the Super Bowl festivities. So much to do. Not enough time to do it all. I have no idea how my colleague and friend Kelley L. Carter maintains this pace. A quick look at some of what went down in these parts.

Leigh Steinberg’s 31st annual Super Bowl party – The longtime NFL agent who served as the model for Tom Cruise’s fictional character in Jerry Maguire was at it again, delivering one of the week’s best parties. Steinberg uses his platform to honor NFL professionals for their charitable work, as well as to introduce his upcoming draft class, which includes University of Southern California running back Ronald Jones II. The elusive runner could be a high pick. Rookie Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was in attendance. With the trade of veteran quarterback Alex Smith from Kansas City to the Washington Redskins last week, Mahomes will begin his second NFL season as Kansas City’s first-string passer. NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson was in the packed house as well.

EA Sports Bowl – The most interactive event of the week. Guests waited turns in front of massive screens to play the hottest games. It was a great way to get pumped before Imagine Dragons took the stage.

The 2018 Maxim party – Is there any performer on the planet hotter than Belcalis Almanzar? Just hearing that Cardi B is scheduled to perform is enough to get most people to jump into an Uber. Shoot, it was enough for me.

Pink – The lady is a trouper. Although battling the flu, Pink put on a good show earlier in the week and delivered a strong, efficient rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before kickoff. Props.

J. Lo – Lopez always has high-energy shows. Last week was no exception.

Bootsy Bellows Big Game Pop Up — Presented by American Airlines and Casper, the daylong festivities began with a luncheon and Q&A session about, among other topics, life in the sports media game. Hosted by ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Samantha Ponder, the session also included Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, Ray Lewis (a member of the 2018 Hall of Fame class) and Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Adam Thielen. Much later, after a dinner, Foxx jumped onstage and went to work. The Academy Award and Grammy winner handed out late-night snacks and drinks. Then O’Neal, the 15-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA champion, showed off his DJing skills.

Tiki Barber and Drew Rosenhaus – Barber, the former New York Giants Pro Bowl running back, teamed with Rosenhaus, among the NFL’s most successful agents, to throw a well-attended bash. Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden, Kansas City Chiefs star wideout Tyreek Hill and former NFL passer Charlie Batch were among those who joined in the fun.