Andalusia native Horry inducted into state sports hall of fame

Published 12:22 am Tuesday, May 25, 2010


BIRMINGHAM – Andalusia native Robert Horry was inducted in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame her Saturday night, with his former high school and college coaches and a host of family and friends with Andalusia ties there to support him.

Horry collected seven championship rings over the course of 16 NBA seasons in which he played for the Houston Rockets, the L.A. Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs. He is one of only three players to win consecutive NBA championships with two different teams and is one of two players to win NBA championships with three different teams.

At the University of Alabama, playing for coach Wimp Sanderson, Horry was part of three SEC Tournament championship teams, set the school record for career blocks with 282 and earned All-SEC honors.

As an Andalusia High School student under the tutelage of coach Richard Robertson, Horry was the Alabama prep player of the year.

“Growing up this was an honor I could never imagine,” Horry said in accepting the Hall of Fame award.

“I’d like to think the Andalusia clan for coming up and the Horry group,” he said. “Coach Richard Robertson and Coach Wimp Sanderson made me the player I was. They had a handful in me.”

He also thanked his wife and children for keeping him grounded and then he thanked his parents, Lelia Horry and Robert Horry, Sr.

“With him being a military guy and her being a teacher, they gave me the strength to endure and instilled in me the importance of a good education and being a good person,” he said.

Coach Sanderson chuckled when asked if Horry had indeed been a handful.

“Well,” he laughed, “first Richard (Robertson) had him and then I had him, and there was his mother in between.”

Robertson recalled the days when Horry was a heavily-recruited high school star.

“Everybody was after him,” he said. “We had to unlist their phone so they (recruiters) had to go through me to get to him. If he needed to go somewhere, I took him so the folks would leave him alone.”

All of Robertson’s family was on hand to watch Horry be inducted in the Hall of Fame.

“He grew up playing in my back yard,” Robertson said. “But he could be one of those kids and I was still tough on him at practice. And his mother backed me up. You don’t always have that.”

Asked what having a former player inducted in the Hall of Fame meant to him personally, Robertson said he hopes his current players learn something from it.

“I want them to see this is what the program means,” he said.

Other members of the Class of 2010 included:

• Reita Clanton, who played basketball, volleyball and softball at Auburn during the pre-NCAA years of women’s sports and went to play for and late coach the U.S. Olympic handball team.

• Howard Cross, a former all-SEC player for the Crimson Tide who enjoyed a 13-year career in the NFL that included two Super Bowl appearances for the New York Giants. His former ‘Bama coach, Ray Perkins, also was on hand for the induction.

• Bobby Johns, a former member of Alabama’s 1965 championship team, the 1966 undefeated team, and a co-captain of the 1967 team, who went on to be an assistant coach at South Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Florida State and Valdosta State before serving as head football coach at the University of Alabama from 1997-2000.

Quipped Johns, “Coach Bryant was the all-time greatest coach, even though he did think Kenny Stabler was a better quarterback than I was.”

• Ronald McKinnon, an Elba native who played on the 1989 Class 3A championship team, was a standout at the University of North Alabama and spent nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before playing one season with the New Orleans Saints.

• Ed Salem, who played football for the University of Alabama, the Washington Redskins and the Montreal Alouettes.

• George “Mule” Suttles, a Bibb County native who played baseball in the Negro leagues. He was the 13th native Alabamian inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y. Among the power hitter’s claims to fame was once hitting three home runs in one inning.

• Ben Tamburello, a former Auburn offensive lineman in the 1980s where he was a All-American and All-SEC. He later played five years for the Philadelphia Eagles.

• Mickey Newsome, inducted as “distinguished Alabama sportsman,” who in a 45-year career with Hibbett Sporting Goods, who worked his way up from part-time employee to CEO.

• Rick Woodward, inducted as a distinguished American sportsman for his baseball passion that led him to build Birmingham’s Rickwood Field in 1910 and own the Birmingham Barons.