This year marks a half-century since Father Ryan’s basketball team first took the court with an integrated team.
Willie Brown was a junior at the time. Coach Bill Derrick remembers Brown as one of the best kids he ever worked with; a gentleman and very honest.
“Besides all that other, he was an excellent athlete and a good—excellent basketball player.”
Playing against all-white teams, Willie Brown went all-district, all-region, and in his senior year, all-state. He went on to integrate MTSU’s basketball team, as well. He set an OVC record and even played a little professional ball. Brown died in 1974 while on duty as a motorcycle cop in Connecticut.
Brown’s jersey number is being retired throughout Father Ryan’s entire sports program.