Journey: The Legacy of Ernie Davis

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We all know the story.
The powerful, dynamic Syracuse University running back – who could run over, around and straight through opposing defenses.
 
You know the one.
The Elmira kid… who would go on to become the first ever African-American Heisman winner.
 
You know the story…but do you know the man?
 
Roland Coleman did.
 
“So Ernie came here, I guess he was about nine or ten years old. And he was a little bigger than the regular guys,” Coleman says. 
 
It was the early 1950s,
Ernie Davis moved to Elmira and instantly caught the attention of coaches.
It didn’t take long from him to make friends.
 
“Everybody liked Ernie, and Ernie liked everybody. He was probably the nicest person I’ve ever known and I’ve known a lot of people,” Coleman says.
 
Davis went on to play for Syracuse University.
He’d go on to win the Heisman trophy in 1961, becoming the first African-American to do so.
Months later, he was the first pick in the NFL draft.
Despite all the accolades he never forgot his roots.
 
“Ernie never took advantage of his stardom. He didn’t walk around with his chest out. He was the most humble guy that you ever want to meet. And he was always for the underdog and he loved kids,” Coleman says.
 
Davis died in 1963, at the age of 23.
But left behind a lasting legacy.
 

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