GRAMBLING — Different ages and eras of Grambling State athletics are represented in this year’s Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame class, but they all delivered a cohesive refrain on Friday when talking about their inductions:
They wouldn’t trade their time as Tiger for anything.
Some have made their mark under legendary coaches such as Eddie G. Robinson and Wilbert Ellis; others have made a name for themselves.
“Sometimes in life, you just have to wait,” Joseph Simpson, a former Grambling basketball star, said. “I did. I learned to be obedient, to trust the Lord and He will see you well.”
Of the 11 inductees, nine were present for Friday’s press conference and met. The late Conrad Hutchinson Jr. was represented by his wife Jeanette Hutchinson and son Conrad Hutchinson III. Joseph Jones was unable to attend Friday’s celebrations.
Here’s what you need to know about each inductee:
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Carter etched her name in the Grambling women’s basketball record book from 1994 to 1998. She helped lead the Lady Tigers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and finished her career in the top 10 of all basketball statistics.
Although she has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in criminal justice from GSU, the guard returned to earn her master’s degree in sports administration and now coaches high school girls in basketball in Texas.
“Being here at Grambling was just a whirlwind for me,” Carter said. “I came here without those expectations, but I think when you think about it and work hard, you never know what you’re going to get.”
Gordon played quarterback at Grambling but was constantly recruited by GSU baseball coach Wilbert Ellis. Faithful to football, Gordon continued to play in the Arena Football League for eight seasons. In 1990, he was selected in the NFL (Cleveland Browns, 11th round) and MLB (Chicago White Sox, 51st round) amateur drafts.
“I made a lot of decisions in my life that weren’t too good,” Gordon said. “But one decision I wouldn’t change was to come here to Grambling State University and play under legendary coach Eddie Robinson.”
Dr James Hammond
Hammond was a pitcher for the Tigers from 1965 to 1968. He was recruited by the son of baseball coach and college president Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones while playing high school baseball in Virginia.
“It changed my life,” Hammond said.
Conrad Hutchinson Jr.
Hutchinson Jr., who died in 1996, transformed the Grambling State Marching Band into a world-class musical spectacle. His son continues his musical legacy and becomes music director in California.
“This man was a genius,” said Jeanette Hutchinson.
Jackson played football under Robinson from 1970 to 1974 and said it was the biggest decision he made. The offensive guard was a four-year starter for Robinson. Jackson served as captain for two years and received All-American honors. He then played semi-professional football with the Shreveport Steamers and the Birmingham Vulcans.
“It’s an emotional event for me,” Jackson said. “To even stay here. A guy from Monroe, Louisiana – south side – all I wanted was a chance, Coach Robinson gave me one.”
Simpson was an All-SWAC first-team basketball selection in his senior year. He was part of Grambling State’s men’s program from 1970 to 1973.
“It’s amazing, remarkable, and all the other adjectives that describe just wonderful,” Simpson said. “…I take this with honor. I will walk with dignity, I will walk with my heart.”
The Trinidad and Tobago native ran the track for GSU from 1982 to 1985. She chose Grambling State since close friends were attending college. She earned All-American honors for her success on the track.
“No regrets,” Small said. “No way.”
The linebacker was a consecutive All-SWAC first-team selection in 2000 and 2001, earning All-America honors as a senior.
“It’s emotional because you know how many great players have been here,” Taylor said. “Some ballers, man – I’m one of them. Just a blessing.”
Despite dealing with injuries and broken bones, Tureaud was the first running back in the program to reach 1,000 yards in 1972, earning him a first-team All-SWAC selection.
Before moving to Grambling State, Tureaud had a scholarship to play basketball at Dillard University in New Orleans. He said he chose GSU because he couldn’t live without knowing if he could have played football for Robinson.
“Life is who you associate with,” Tureaud said. “I’m so proud to be associated with Grambling and all the young people I’ve met here.”
The dual-threat pitcher/outfielder played with the Tigers from 1984 to 1988. Consistently hitting above .300, his performances on the mound earned him various All-SWAC honors.
He said he hoped to have made Ellis proud, after the coach recruited him on faith – not seeing Watkins hit or throw beforehand.
“I often think to myself if I should die tonight and I wake up tomorrow morning and God asks me where I wanted to go,” Watkins said. “Send me back to Grambling for four more years. It’s the place I love.”