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School Hall of Fame Includes Some in NFL, NBA

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Seven prominent sports figures from San Antonio ISD’s will be inducted into the fourth annual SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame during a special ceremony to be held in their honor on Aug. 25. Master of ceremonies will be Gary DeLaune, a legendary TV and Radio newsman whose career spans nearly 60 years in broadcasting.

Following their induction, bronze plaques commemorating the honorees will be on permanent display at the east visitor’s entrance of Alamo Stadium.

The honorees are:

Fennis Dembo – an All-State basketball player at Fox Tech HS. This 1984 graduate starred at point guard. Dembo helped lead his high school team to the UIL state semi-finals in 1984. He played college basketball at the University of Wyoming. He rose to stardom, becoming the Cowboys all-time leading scorer and rebounder in school history. He accumulated 2,311 points and 954 rebounds in four years at Wyoming. He helped lead the team to the Sweet Sixteen of the 1987 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.  At the 1987 NCAA Tournament, Dembo was the leading scorer averaging 27.8 points a game. He was drafted into the National Basketball Association and helped the Detroit Pistons win the 1989 NBA championship.

Tai Dillard – a 1999 Sam Houston HS alum who was an All-State and All-City basketball player. She was a star shooting guard and helped lead Sam Houston to back-to-back UIL state basketball championship tournament appearances in 1998 and 1999. She played college basketball for four seasons at the University of Texas at Austin (1999-2003). She was a two-time Big 12 All-Academic honoree and she was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll five times. Dillard went on to play in the inaugural season for the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association in 2003. She played for the Silver Stars from 2003-2005. After her playing career ended, she became a high school and college women’s basketball coach.

Dolores “Delo” Dyer – regarded as a pioneer in high school girls athletics. She coached volleyball for 16 seasons at Jefferson HS and built a winning dynasty for the Mustangs. Dyer became the first-ever volleyball coach for Jefferson in 1972 when the UIL officially recognized volleyball as a championship sport. In her coaching career, she amassed an incredible 410-80 overall record for a winning percentage of .837, the winningest percentage for volleyball in San Antonio history. Dyer guided the Lady Mustangs to nine straight league championships. In 1979, she led her Mustangs to the UIL state championship finals against Cypress Creek HS. Jefferson won an amazing 92 straight district matches between 1978-1984 under Dyer.

Darryl Baris Grant – a star offensive and defensive lineman for the Highlands HS football team. The 1977 graduate played college football at Rice University. In 1981, he was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the National Football League. Grant helped the Redskins make the playoffs six times, including three trips to the Super Bowl (two wins) and four conference championship appearances (three wins). He is best remembered for his 1983 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, where he intercepted a pass for a 10-yard touchdown. Grant played in 141 games for the Redskins from 1981-1990, finishing with 27 sacks and two interceptions. His best season was in 1984 when he recorded a career-high eight sacks.

Clifford Johnson – a 1966 graduate of Wheatley High School and a standout athlete in baseball, football, basketball and track. He was the star catcher for the Wheatley Lions in his senior year. In 1966, he was drafted into professional baseball by the Houston Astros. After six seasons in the minor leagues, he made his major league debut for the Astros in 1972. He played catcher, first base and outfield in the early part of his professional career before becoming primarily a full-time designated hitter. Johnson played a total of 15 years and for seven different teams in Major League Baseball. Two of those seasons, he helped the New York Yankees win back-to-back World Series championships in 1977 and 1978.

David Vela – a 1979 Burbank HS alum, who was an All-City football player and was named to the 1970’s All-Decade high school football team by the San Antonio Express-News. He helped lead his Burbank Bulldogs to the school’s only undefeated regular season at 10-0 in 1978. He was a Little All-American football player at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, now called Texas State University. He set a school record in most receiving yards and touchdown receptions in 1981, a record that stood until 2008. With Vela, the Bobcats won two National Division II Football Championships in 1981 and 1982. He played professional football for the Oakland Raiders (National Football League) and San Antonio Gunslingers (United States Football League) from 1983-1986.

Julius Whittier – a 1969 Highlands HS graduate who was a star football player and team captain. He made an historical impact by becoming the first African American to ever letter in football at the University of Texas at Austin. He played offensive tackle and tight end for the Longhorns. He helped the team win three Southwest Conference championships (1970, 1971 and 1972) and one National Division I Championship in 1970. Following college graduation, he earned a graduate degree at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 1976 and completed a law degree.

About the SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame

Each year, the SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame honors alumni who have made a positive impact in sports, either through excellent athletic achievements or excellent athletic program contributions. In addition to outstanding athleticism, inductees were chosen for their distinction and excellence to the District by their conduct both on and off the field, or court, of competition.

Nominations for the class of 2018 were received this past year and selection was made by a committee. The SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame is sponsored by the SAISD Athletic Department and receives support from the SAISD Foundation. For more information, go here: www.saisd.net/athletichalloffame2018.

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6th Annual Rance Olison Sr. “Celebrity Sports Trivia Night” Gala

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San Antonio, TX— The NFL Former Players Association San Antonio-Austin Chapter will host their 6th Annual Rance Olison Sr. “Celebrity Sports Trivia Night” Gala, October 12, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., at the Plaza Club, located on the 21 st floor of the Frost Bank Tower, 100 W. Houston St.

Rance “Sonny” William Olison used his athleticism to open doors that led to an advanced education and a lifetime of philanthropy. “He had a lot of great one-liners I find myself repeating, like: ‘To be a gainer, you must be a giver,’” former NFL and University of Texas running back Priest Holmes said about his friend. Olison called himself a “suitcase” player because he played in four professional football leagues including the NFL. He was a cornerback with the San Francisco 49ers in 1976. He also played for the Texarkana Phantoms in Arkansas from 1977-78, the Kansas City Chiefs in 1979, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1980, among others.

Olison also served as an assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys and instructed many young people in sports throughout the years. Wanting to empower others, Olison also become a history teacher and philanthropist. During his reign as president of the NFL Former Players Association San Antonio-Austin Chapter, the organization worked with the San Antonio-based Priest Holmes Foundation to provide scholarships for students to help them step into promising futures.

On March 11, at age 65, Olison died of heart complications. To honor all of his accomplishments, The NFL Former Players Association San Antonio-Austin Chapter will host their 6th Annual Rance Olison Sr. “Celebrity Sports Trivia Night” Gala, October 12, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., at the Plaza Club, located on the 21st floor of the Frost Bank Tower, 100 W. Houston St.

The event will feature a dinner, dance and silent auction. There will be several Former NFL, NBA and MLB players in San Antonio, Texas to take part in this event.

Proceeds will benefit the Mrs. Carrie Kendrix Buggs Turkey giveaway in Rance hometown in Arkansas and in San Antonio on December for families in need.

Tickets can be purchased on Event Brite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/6th-annual-rance-olison-celebrity-sports-trivia-night-gala-tickets-65676737891

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Patriots Release WR Antonio Brown

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced that they have released WR Antonio Brown. Additionally, New England has signed LB Scooby Wright to the practice squad and released DL Gerri Green from the practice squad.

Brown, 31, was signed by New England on Sept. 9, 2019. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder is a veteran of nine NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-18). Brown originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick (195th overall) of Pittsburgh out of Central Michigan in the 2010 NFL Draft. He was traded by Pittsburgh to Oakland on March 13, 2019 and released by Oakland on Sept. 7, 2019.

Brown has played in 131 games with 103 starts and totaled 841 receptions for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdown receptions. He also has 32 rushing attempts for 124 yards, 186 punt returns for 1,759 yards and four touchdowns and 47 kickoff returns for 1,173 yards and one touchdown. He has played in 10 postseason games with six starts, tallying 51 receptions for 837 yards and four touchdowns.

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Former Longhorn Benson dies

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AUSTIN, Texas — Former NFL and Texas Longhorns running back Cedric Benson, one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA history, has died in a motorcycle crash in Texas. He was 36.

Benson’s attorney, Sam Bassett, said Austin law enforcement told him that Benson was killed in the wreck Saturday night. Bassett said he did not have details about what happened.

“Cedric was not just a client, he was my friend,” Bassett said. “He was immensely talented and fierce on the football field, yet most have no idea the difficulties he overcame to achieve what he did. Though imperfect in some respects, once Cedric was your friend you understood how kind, sensitive and loyal he was as a man.”

Benson was one of the top high school recruits out of the West Texas town of Midland. According to Texas Football magazine, he is eighth on the career rushing list for Texas high schools. He led Midland Lee to three straight state championships, the only three in school history, from 1998 to 2000.

He then went on to be a key player in the Longhorns’ resurgence under coach Mack Brown. Benson played at Texas from 2001 to ’04, and his 5,540 yards ranks second at the university behind Ricky Williams’ total and ninth in NCAA history. He scored 64 career touchdowns with the Longhorns and won the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back, in 2004.

He was the only player in school history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Honor in 2014.

Brown and Williams took to social media to pay tribute to Benson after learning of his death.

Tom Herman, the current coach at Texas, also expressed his condolences.

“It’s an unbelievably sad day with the news of the passing of Cedric Benson,” Herman said in a statement. “We lost a true Longhorn Legend, one of the best running backs in college football history and a really special man. He was far too young, and my heart aches for his family, friends and the entire Longhorn community. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.”

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