Leland Stein III

Posts Tagged ‘Michigan State University’

Sports Zone honors achievers

In sports column on October 14, 2018 at 1:41 am


gilber brown

Gilbert “Gravedigger” Brown was the anchor in the middle of the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winning D Line.

By Leland Stein III

stein final four 1

Leland Stein III

DETROIT, Mi. – The Detroit Sports Zone recently hosted its Seventh Annual High School Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony at Bert’s Market Place Theater.

In a one-on-one interview I implemented with NFL Hall of Fame legend, Jim Brown, he told me that “we have to tell our own stories.” That is exactly what the Detroit Sports Zone organizers are striving to accomplish.

“Our music and sports histories are very important,” said Detroit Sports Zone board member, Michael Price. “Never before has All-City, All-Metro, All-State, or All-American sports legends from Detroit Public Schools been honored for their athletic and academic accomplishments, and, their productivity as citizens in Detroit, or across the globe. We are also honoring men and women so the youth can see them and maybe even emulate their efforts.”

Continuing with Price’s assertion, it is important for the young people to see others that have lived in their neighborhoods, went to their schools and fought through some of the same constraints/problems many of our youth endure still today.

Urban cities throughout America continues to yield young men and women that negotiated the negatives of their environments and uplift themselves via athletics. The 2018 Class continues this aim as it is a diverse conglomeration of achievers and educators.

The 2018 honored awardees were: 

Gilbert Brown graduated from Detroit Mackenzie High and University of Kansas. He was All-State at Mackenzie and All-Academic while at Kansas. He has been placed in the Kansas’ Ring of Honor and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Brown played nine years with the Packers and in 1996, he started all 16 games next to Santana Dotson, Sean Jones and Reggie White, a defensive unit that allowed a league record low 19 touchdowns and went on to win Super Bowl XXXI. 

“I used football to go to college,” Brown told me after the induction ceremony. “Never thought it would go this far, playing in Green Bay alongside Reggie White, winning the Super Bowl, and now getting honored at home is very special indeed. My family, coaches and friends are all here.”


NBA star and coach Johnny Davis.

Johnny Davis prepped at Detroit Murray-Wright High and University of Dayton. He was a high school All-State and All-American. He continued his stellar play at Dayton making the U.S.A. Men’s Basketball team and helping it earn a Pan American Games gold medal. Playing 10-years in the NBA, his stellar moment came in 1977 with Portland winning the valued NBA championship. Later be became the first and only Detroit Public School League alumni to become a head coach in the NBA – he led three NBA teams. 

“I grew up in the Brewster Projects and played in the PSL,” Davis recalled after leaving the stage. “Words cannot describe how I feel about being home and getting recognized by the Detroit Sports Zone. Ever since I left for college, played in a number of cities in the NBA, and, coached on even more NBA teams, no matter my travels, Detroit was and is still my home.” 

Markita Aldridge, a 1991 Detroit Martin Luther King High All-State, All-American basketball star led her school to a Michigan Class A State title. She was also named Miss Basketball in the State of Michigan. She also starred at UNC-Charlotte. Played in the WNBA and overseas. She has her own foundation and is the mother of two boys 

Jim Bibbs, an Ecorse High and Wayne State MA graduate, and high school track star, who tied a Jesses Owens world record in the 60-yard dash (1951) while at Eastern Michigan University. Transferring his history and knowledge to Michigan State University he became the first black head track coach in the Big Ten (1975-1995).  He has coached 26 All-Americans, 52 Big Ten Champions, been named to three track Hall of Fames and was A. Phillip Randolph Institute Unsung Hero Awardee. 

“I remember the days of the Black Bottom and Black Experience in Detroit,” Bibbs told me, “so, these Detroiters getting together to honor and recognize their own, makes this even more special for me, and, reminds me of how we had to do for ourselves.” 

David “Smokey” Gaines came out of Detroit Public Schools (Miller and Northeastern High) and continued his education at LeMoyne-Owens College (BS) and Eastern Michigan (MA). The All-City basketball star left college amid the segregation era and found solace with the Harlem Globetrotters (1963-67). From there, among many endeavors, Gaines started his career passion coaching. In particular he became assistant coach at University of Detroit (1973-77) and head coach (1977-79). From there Gaines piloted San Diego State University as head coach (1979-87) and as Assistant Athletic Director (1987-89). He eventually went back to become Athletic Director and head coach at LeMoyne-Owens (2005). 


Thomas Hearns.

Thomas “Hitman” Hearns prepped in Detroit schools and rose in the Sweet Science under the tutelage of legendary Detroit Kronk trainer, Emanuel Steward. Hearns became the only boxer to win five world titles in five divisions; he also, was the first to hoist eight world titles in six weight classes. He was selected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012. 

Sammy Gee is a graduate of the legendary Detroit Miller High School where he earned All-City honors in football, basketball and baseball. He was not doubt one of the greatest all-around athletes to come out of the city. Gee played with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters for eight years, played Negro League Baseball with the New York Cubans, as well as, with the Brooklyn Dodgers Canadian American League Farm Team. 

George Perles went to Detroit Western High and to Michigan State University. The United States Army veteran came back tot the city to coach St Ambrose tot the Detroit City Leagues title. He then became defensive line coach at Michigan State for 12-years. He parlayed that endeavor into a defensive coordinator position with the Pittsburg Steelers from 1972-82, and, with it came four Super Bowl championships. He left the Steelers to become head coach at Michigan State (1982-94) winning two Big Ten titles and one Rose Bowl. 

Ronnie Phillips prepped at Detroit Denby High and continued on to the University of Illinois. Phillips was an All-City and All-State runner at 880-yards, one mile run and cross-country. At Illinois he became an All-American and All-Big Ten, setting the conference record at the 800-meters that lasted from 1972-82. He went on to become noteworthy educator in Detroit, rising up as a counselor, department head and principal. 

Dr. Robert Sims graduated from Detroit Western High as an exceptional basketball player, he went on to get a BS from Eastern Michigan, an MS from New York University and later earned his D.O. for Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery. He was very successful in private practice medicine and surgery for almost 30-years. Yet, he still gave his valuable time to give Detroit Schools athletic teams physical examinations. He was selected to the Eastern Michigan Hall of Fame basketball/track. 

Not only were the “Terrific Ten” acknowledged and feted, the Detroit Sports Zone awarded four scholarships to present and former city students. 

The Detroit Sports Zone’s history is featured prominently on www.detroitsportszone.org, and, it showcases the history makers and features video history with present and past inductees.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and at Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Gholston earns playing time in Tampa Bay

In sports column on November 25, 2013 at 4:10 am
WILLIAM GHOLSTON (# 2) making mark in NFL – Dan Graschuck photo

WILLIAM GHOLSTON (# 2) making mark in NFL – Dan Graschuck photo

Detroiter representing PSL.

By Leland Stein III

DETROIT – When Detroiters – tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston – and running back Le’Veon Bell left Michigan State University to enter the NFL Draft, all knew the Spartans would miss this trio.

The Spartans have, but they have continued to push on, winning the Big Ten Legends Division, and have earned the right to play the Ohio State Buckeyes for the Big Ten title.

When the three Spartans announced they were forgoing their senior seasons, it marked the first time Michigan State has had multiple underclassmen enter the NFL Draft since 1999, when defensive end Dimitrius Underwood and running back Sedrick Irvin left East Lansing.

Leland Stein IIIBell with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sims with the Miami Dolphins and Gholston with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all are making the transition to professional football.

In particular, recently at Ford Field I caught up with former Detroit Southeastern High star, Gholston, in the joyous Buccaneers’ locker room.

With a giant smile on his face Gholston and his teammates rejoiced following its third consecutive victory. This one was an improbable 24-21 upset over a Lions team that has playoff aspirations.

Tampa Bay, just playing every game with nothing to lose, now sits at 3-8, while the Lions fell to 6-5.

“We are happy to be playing good enough to get this thing back on track,” exclaimed Gholston. “We went through some adversity early in the season, but this group has hung together and shone some grit.”

Also showing some grit is Gholston. He came to a Tampa bay team whose strength is a solid young cast of defensive linemen. Gholston had to wait his turn, especially since the team was mired in a prolonged early season losing streak.

“This is a great group of defensive linemen,” Gholston noted. “With a Pro Bowl type player like Gerald McCoy setting the example we are getting better. He has taken me and the other rookies under his wing and never misses an opportunity to help us or give words of encouragement.”

Gholston told me he started slowly in part because he was used to “playing in a five technique,” so he had to learn the nuances of the “four technique.”

He added: “It took me some time to change the way I had learned the game, but now I feel like I’ve got it. Also, the hardest part about moving to the NFL is the mental part of the game. I felt physically I was ready, but I had to understand the ways of being a professional football player, and, everything that comes with that.

“I’ve dedicated myself to just concentrating on football and not hanging out and all that other stuff. Also, I came in with a 17% body fat ratio, and I’ve got it down to 10%.”

Indeed, he has an NFL body. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing a solid 281 pounds, the Southeastern and MSU star is not out of place in an NFL locker room.

“It feels great to be healthy,” Gholston shared. “As you know, all most all my time at MSU I was playing hurt. I really believe that MSU helped prepare me for the NFL though. In college we looked at it as a business and had fun too. I’m keeping that same prospective here in Tampa.”

Gholston said that he has followed every MSU game this season. “The Spartans are rolling,” he unleased. “They are playing that smash-mouth defense that we started. I still text the defensive linemen. It is going to be a heck of a game in the championship against Ohio State; I wish I could be there supporting my guys!”

Gholston twice earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and in his junior year led the Spartans in tackles for loss (13 for 49 yards), sacks (4.5 for 24 yards) and pass break-ups (10). His 10 pass break-ups ranked first among NCAA FBS defensive linemen.

McCoy said about the rookie: “Gholston is a hard worker. He comes to me for advice and is eager to learn and make himself a better player. Once he learns all the little things about defensive line play in the NFL, he’s going to be a beast. He’s a bull and is quick and strong.”

Former Ohio State and now New York Giants rookie defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins, who played at Southeastern with Gholston, forming one of the Detroit Public School League’s greatest defensive line pairs, are inspiration for each other.

“Big Hank is my guy!” exclaimed Gholston. “We talk to each constantly. We motivate and uplift each other. We both are trying to learn to be pros’ pros.”

I’ve known these men since high school and have watched their maturation. It is no doubt they both will traverse the mind field that is professional sports, and, find their place as productive and character driven athletes.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or at Twitter @lelandsteinIII

Banks holding down Kronk boxing lore

In sports column on February 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

By Leland Stein III

Leland Stein III

Leland Stein IIIBy Leland Stein II

The Motor City boxing scene has been on the international map for many, many years. Starting with the Brewster Center and legends Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Emanuel Steward.

Later Steward lorded over the most famous boxing club in the world, Kronk. Out of that mix came Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty and the McCory brothers, just to mention a very few.

Now on February 17th on live HBO Boxing, Detroit’s own Johnathon Banks, will be seeking to keep the magical Motown fisticuffs front and center in the international boxing discourse.

“We may not have a Kronk boxing facility since Emanuel’s passing,” Banks said, “but this February people will see the spirit of Kronk is still alive and making history.”

Banks works the speed bag. – Dan Graschuck photo

Banks works the speed bag. – Dan Graschuck photo

Banks, pepped at Detroit Western International Academy, graduating in 2000. With his size and obvious athletic ability, he could have played any sport in high school, but boxing was always in his blood.

“When I went down to the Brewster Center at a very young age,” Banks said, “and learned the history that had been made there, I was a fan of boxing forever. I started boxing as a kid and never wanted to do anything else. I did run cross country at Western, but that helped me with my boxing conditioning.”

Banks again proves that when a person has a true vision for themselves, he or she generally put everything into that dream and in most cases are better directed and focused at a young age.

“As I kept training, I finally met Emanuel, and he turned my life around in this business,” Banks exclaimed. “After Emanuel became my trainer, he started taking me to fighter camps like (Lennox) Lewis’, and, he hooked me up with Wladimir (Klitschko) whom I took over as his trainer following Emanuel’s death.”

The fact of the matter is in less than a month after Emanuel’s death, on Nov. 12th in Hamburg, Germany, Banks was in world champion Klitschko’s corner as head trainer.

Next Banks (31-1-1) claimed into the ring to contest undefeated Seth Mitchell, a former linebacker at Michigan State University, on November 17, 2012 in Atlantic City. He shocked the boxing world producing a second-round knockout over highly regarded Mitchell.

With that title Banks is now currently W.B.C International and N.A.B.O Heavyweight Champion. He has the unique distinction of being the only boxer in history to train the reigning World Heavyweight Champion to a successful title defense, and a week later compete for his own heavyweight title and win in stunning knockout fashion.

Concerning the double duty as a heavyweight champion and world-class trainer, Banks feels he is a natural for it

“I was taught by Emanuel and some other great coaches,” Banks relayed. “I have the ability to teach and being a good trainer is a job of teaching. A person could be a great or average fighter, but none of that will automatically transfer to a person being a great trainer.

“I think what Wladimir saw in me was that I was always looking at him to explore his best and natural assets. While some trainers try to make a fighter fit into their style, I try to fit into the fighter’s style. I’ve always been eager to help guys out and help them reach their full potential. Inside and outside the ring I try to live like that.”

Banks has always had the magic touch when it came to boxing, and, he said that is what Emanuel saw and helped bring out in him. Prior to turning pro, Banks enjoyed a great amateur career that saw him become a three-time National Amateur Champion at 178 lbs.

He went on to become IBO Cruiserweight Champion and now the heavyweight crown. Now in mid-February Banks says he ready to show the world that win was the real deal and to keep the memory of Kronk alive.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Detroit Southeastern’s Hankins anchoring Ohio State defense

In sports column on November 18, 2012 at 3:03 am

Southeastern’s Hankins anchoring Ohio State defense

Detroiter’s stock rising in NFL circles.

By Leland Stein III


Detroit Southeastern’s Hankins stops MSU”s All-Big-Ten back La”Veon Bell. – Dan Graschuck photo

EAST LANSING – With ESPN College GameDay crew creating the hype on Michigan State University’s campus and an ESPN national television audience looking on, former Detroit Public School League (PSL) star Johnathan Hankins and his Ohio State Buckeyes outlasted MSU at Spartan Stadium, 17-16 in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

As I headed to the post-game interview area, I ran across former Detroit Southeastern High coach Donshell English. He had arguably two of the best defensive linemen in PSL history on a team that finished 11-1. Both Hankins and MSU’s William Gholston made All-State and were on the Michigan Chronicle ALL-PSL team. The 6-foot-7, 278 pound Gholston left the PSL the No. 1 ranked player in the state and the 6-foot3, 322 pound Hankins was the 20th.

Now Hankins and Gholston, both juniors, are ranked as the best two defensive players in the Big Ten and both are pre-season All-America picks. Recently Big Ten Network NFL draft expert Russ Lande’s weekly Big Board, flip-flopped Gholston and Hankins, making the Ohio State defensive tackle Hankins the No. 1 player in the conference, with Gholston No. 2.

English said he is not surprised that both his star players at Southeastern have continued to grow as students and athletes.

Leland Stein III

About Hankins English recalled: “Against MSU he was a force from the very first play of the game controlling the middle. You can tell the way his coach (Urban Meyer) and his teammates respond to him, he is a team leader.

“He was the quiet storm in high school, but he always gave us extra effort. He never took plays off, so I knew he would excel wherever he decided to go to college.”

Meyer told me Hankins is a great young man and excellent teammate. “He is really coming into his own, but he can get even better. He is a hard worker and he gives his heart to Ohio State football. He is surly one of our team leaders.”

With Gholston being an early commit with the Spartans, and Archie Collins, Southeastern’s defensive coordinator during those seasons, a graduate assistant with Michigan State, it would seem Hankins and Gholston would have ended up together in East Lansing.

Hankins father told reporters shaking his head: “How he got away from Michigan and Michigan State, I can’t tell you why. I can’t see how they allowed him to leave the state of Michigan.”

Recalled Hankins: “Michigan State was one of my first choices and we always talked about playing together. But when I took my trip to Ohio State, the family atmosphere and the way Coach (Jim) Tressel treated me made me feel like this was the right place for me to grow as athlete and man.”

He said Meyer has a different style from Tressel, but he has bonded with him and the team is moving forward. “He (Meyer) is an intense coach, but he wants the best for us as people. On the field he expects us to play with energy and discipline.”

Hankins said that although the Buckeyes are on probation and will not be able to play for a Big Ten or national title, Meyer still has his team motivated and striving to be the best they can be.

“We are working to win every game,” Hankins said, “and we just want to have a positive season and send the seniors out with good memories.”

When Meyer arrived this season, Hankins quickly showed him he was the type of athletic defensive tackle that could be the anchor of his defense. He is fast becoming noted around the country for his running back feet, a big smile and a nose for the ball that proves he is more than just a big body.

“I think everyone knew from the start he’d be something special,” senior defensive lineman John Simon told reporters. “Hank can beat people with his speed and his power, and with his knowledge of the game, he knows what’s going on before the ball is even snapped.”

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or at Twitter @lelandsteinIII