Black Professional Athletes
History of the Black community in Lakeland fl 1885 - 1985
Professionals in the Community
Legal & Political
Sports became more organized in the United States near the end of the 1800s. Like most of American society, sports followed the growing pattern of segregation and discrimination--with Blacks not being permitted to compete with whites.
Once the US Supreme Court ruling in Plessy vs. Ferguson, separate but equal was constitutional, Blacks were had to develop there own leagues to participate in the sports related activities.
In Lakeland, there are few records regarding Blacks in sports before the 1920s. That's when the Washington Park School's football team, the Sharks, won the Florida State Championship for Blacks.
Since then, several Blacks born in Lakeland between 1885 and 1985, have demonstrated tremendous talent in sports--some becoming professionals. The following are some Blacks who were born in Lakeland within its first 100 years and moved among the ranks of the sports professionals.
Lewis Jr, Ray
Mitchell Jr, Freddie
Smith, Ron Bernard
Graduated from Kathleen High School in 1993 where he played quarterback, free safety and return specialist. Played in National Football League for the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears.
Graduated from Rochelle High School in 1968. Fought about 675 professional wrestling matches and partnered with wrestling greats like Jack Brisco, Dusty Rhodes and Dory Funk Jr.
Graduated from Kathleen High School in 1986. He played in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He won two Super Bowls with Dallas Cowboys.
Graduated from Kathleen High School in 1993. He played in the National Football League for the Baltimore Ravens. He won two Super Bowls with the Baltimore Ravens.
Graduated from Kathleen High School in 1984. He played in the Major League Baseball with the California Angels, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.
Graduated from Kathleen High School in 1996 where he was a four sport athlete. Played in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. Also drafted by the Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Graduated from Kathleen High School in 1974. He played in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ray Lewis Jr
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