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Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame inductees: Celebrating our sports heritage

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Steve Lundquist (photo credit: Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame) Steve Lundquist (photo credit: Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame)

On Saturday night, I was humbled and honored to host the 9th Annual Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.    These are always special occasions because of the names and faces being celebrated, and the memories they revive for all of us.

This year's five new inductees were:

Ronald Bradley, who retired in 2010 after 50 years of coaching as one of the all-time winningest boys basketball coaches in the country.   While at Newton County High, Coach Bradley's team won a record-setting 129 consecutive home games from 1959 to 1967!

Earl Mann, also known as, "Mr. Atlanta Baseball."   Mr. Mann served as GM, President, and later Owner of the Atlanta Crackers beginning in 1933.  He helped fashion the Crackers into what was known as "the Yankees of the Minor Leagues."

Dr. Homer Rice, the former Athletics Director for Georgia Tech, was also inducted.   Dr. Rice left a legacy of impressive facilities, sports championships, and developing successful student athletes.

Deion Sanders.   Do you really need a reminder?   Prime Time, as he was known, was the Falcons top pick in 1989 and also played for the Braves.   Those were great times around here and Deion was one of the big reasons why.   He is still the only man to play in the Super Bowl and World Series.

Finally…  Steve Lundquist.    I save Steve for last because he brings back the most memories for me.    Many know him as the Clayton County kid who won Olympic Gold in the 100 meter breaststroke and 400 meter medley relay during the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.  

Steve would no doubt have added to that medal collection had the 1980 Moscow games not been boycotted.   He was one of the most dominant swimmers of the day.   In fact, despite missing out on more Olympic glory, Steve was voted Top Breaststroker of the Century by USA Swimming.

Steve Lundquist is a true Atlanta native.   He was raised on Lake Spivey in south Atlanta, where he developed his swimming skills.   At 17, he broke his first world record, and would go on to break world and American records on 15 other occasions.    

Once upon a long time ago, I used to swim against him.   Well-- sort of.   I would occasionally be in the same heat!   Quite often, Steve was already out of the pool and eating lunch by the time I touched the wall!   After years of this same pattern, I decided to pursue another sport!   It is why, on his big night, I thanked Lundquist for helping launch my football career.    I knew then what all of us know now-- that Steve Lundquist is world class!

It was a fantastic night.   Each inductee truly seemed to admire the accomplishments of the others.   All of them had given us much to cheer for and admire over the years.   The Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame should be commended for picking five worthy Atlanta Hall of Famers who, while achieving so much, also represented our city with class.

For ways you can help keep these memories alive and honor those who made them for us and who continue to make a difference in peoples' lives, please click here to check out the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame website.

-KRod

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