Five of Clinton’s finest athletes were honored Saturday night, as they were inducted into the Little Joe’s Barber Shop Hall of Fame.
During the event, L.C. Stevens, James Miller, Ray Bolton, Bryan Peterson and James Faison were inducted and had their pictures unveiled as part of Phase 4 of a project.
Lenzie Grice welcomed everyone, followed by the Rev. Marcus Becton, standing in for Mayor Lew Starling. Becton said it was his first time being at the barber shop and had no idea of all the things taking place there.
“Honoring these five athletes from Clinton who have stepped out, moved forward, and succeeded in life is quiet a feat,” Becton remarked.
Grice then invited each inductee to the podium to make comments.
Stevens, who was the first called up, was unable to attend due to an accident earlier in the week, but his mother gladly spoke on his behalf.
“He didn’t ever want to stand out in the crowd or be in the spot light,” she said. “He just loves the youth and young people.”
Bolton, who currently works for the City of Clinton as a utility line tech and as pastor of Red Hill Missionary Baptist Church, said he loves the City of Clinton and is grateful for all the residents have done to show their support over the years.
Peterson, who gave honor to God, admitted that hard work does pay off.
“There is always someone else out there working harder than you,” Peterson added.
While attending Clinton High School, Peterson would stay after school, trying to better himself and then go home and do homework and practice more.
“I’m grateful to all my mentors which has played such an important role in my life and serving as a positive example,” Faison shared. “As Coach Lewis used to say, ‘get better, or worse, you don’t stay the same.’”
Miller, who scored 1,000 points for the Horses and was named All-State, All-Conference, Conference Player of the Year and County Player of the Year, now works at Howard University. He wasn’t able to attend Saturday’s event.
Lewis stood proudly a the podium and talked about the players he had the opportunity to teach and coach.
“All of these inductees have the same characteristics: good families, good starts, and good manners,” the coach shared. “They were hard workers and had a vision on what they wanted to do with their life. I want to also thank the parents for allowing me to be a part of their lives.”
The first player he spoke of was Stevens who played quarterback for three years. At the beginning of his senior year, Lewis had given a lot of thought as to why he would have his best athlete put the ball in someone’s hands. So the decision was made to move him to running back so he could run and catch the ball.
“It was a great decision as the team moved on to win a state championship,” Lewis explained.
Lewis recalled a catch that Stevens made for a touchdown in the final minutes of a playoff game against Ayden-Grifton for the victory. Stevens went on to play wide receiver for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and went on to play in the National Football League for the New Orleans Saints. From there he played professional football in Europe, where he was named Player of the Year.
Lewis then spoke of Faison, which he called “hands of stone,” meaning he didn’t have a good set of hands. Lewis said that Faison had good speed and a good season as running back, but put him back at tight end in the playoffs. Lewis talked about Faison’s toughness, telling the story of the running back in a wheel chair and completing laps as part of the team’s punishment.
“That showed mental toughness,” Lewis said.
“The first time I laid eyes on Bryan he was a chubby, fat kid,” Lewis explained. “He was my team manager when he was in elementary school. He began playing on the junior varsity team, but by mid season, he was moved up to the varsity where he played quarterback. We went on to win a state championship. Lewis recalled the day after winning the champion, Bryan he was on the field working on his own to get better.”
Peterson went on to play football at North Carolina State University. To this day, Lewis said he is the only player to throw a pass for a touchdown and catch a pass for a touchdown in the same game.
Melony Henderson can be reached at [email protected] or at 910-376-2127