Jim Brown, a Manhasset native and the only athlete to be inducted in the Pro Football, College Football and Lacrosse Hall of Fames, died on Friday, May 19 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 87.
“To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star,” read a statement from the Brown family. “To our family he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken.”
Brown’s death was met with a speedy reaction from across the world of sports.
“It’s impossible to describe the profound love and gratitude we feel for having the opportunity to be a small piece of Jim’s incredible life and legacy,” added a statement from the Cleveland Browns, where Brown starred as a running back in the 1950s and ‘60s. “We mourn his passing, but celebrate the indelible light he brought to the world. Our hearts are with Jim’s family, loved ones, and all those he impacted along the way.”
“Jim Brown was a gifted athlete — one of the most dominant players to ever step on any athletic field — but also a cultural figure who helped promote change,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “During his nine-year NFL career, which coincided with the civil rights movement here at home, he became a forerunner and role model for athletes being involved in social initiatives outside their sport.”
A native of St. Simons, GA, Brown was born in 1936. Seven years later, his mother moved to New York to find work as a domestic. The Brown family lived, first, in Great Neck before settling in Manhasset Valley.
At Manhasset High School, Brown came into his own. By his sophomore year, Brown stood six feet tall and weighed 174 pounds. Brown lettered in no less than five sports: Football, lacrosse, basketball, track and field and baseball. The New York Yankees scouted Brown as a pitching prospect. Brown was a halfback in football and a center lineman in lacrosse. As important, the young Brown had an ally in football coach Ed Walsh. The latter knew that Brown was college material. The young man needed to make good marks. He listened to Walsh. With Walsh, Brown had a friend for life. No matter how far Brown traveled, Manhasset would remain a pleasant memory, his true home.