By: Kean Calloway
Ernest Davis, commonly known as Ernie was one of the best running backs ever in history. He led the Orangemen to National Championship in 1959, and in 1961 was the first African American to when the Heisman award. Training to get prepared to go to the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League he was struck with leukemia. He never played in a NFL game and died on may 18, 1963, at the age of 23. But Ernie is remember as a superior athlete and a young man who lived and died with Dignity, Grace , and Compassion.
Davis was born on December 14, 1939, in New Salem, Pennsylvania, to Marie Davis. His mom and his step dad were separated and his real father died in a car accident before he was born. Davis’ mother sent him to live with his grandparents in Uniontown, PA at 14 months old. Willie and Elizabeth, his grandparents, already had 12 children but were more than happy to take him in. As Davis got older he spent his early years playing sports with his older uncles.
Davis was respected through the community because of his achievements in sports. Even grown-ups noticed him and knew what he was capable of. Although he was much bigger than everybody at his age, he never physically hurt anybody. Actually he would wait for the whistle to blow in football games after a play and help the other player up after talking to them.
As a Freshman Ernie played on the Junior/Varsity team, but broke his wrist in the first game and could not play for the rest of the season. But it did not stop him from playing basketball. Making the Varsity team, with his wrist still in a splint, he came off the bench to score 22 points. Ernie also played first base and pitched for the baseball team. Even though baseball was his weakest sport scouts still kept an eye on him.
More than 30 colleges and universities including Superpowers and the University of Michigan and Notre Dame. Being heavily recruited by Syracuse University that is the college he chose. Davis freshman year football team went undefeated in 1958. Davis at 6’2 and 210 pounds was a strong, fast, and smart player that helped them win every game.
In 1959 Davis’s sophomore year at Syracuse, he rushed for 686 yards and led the Syracuse Orangeman to an 11-0 record. Davis individually outscored Syracuse opponents 80-73. People say Davis would have been the best football player in the NFL if he had a chance to make it, even though he did not make it to the NFL he still made History.