His mom, Opel, attended the dedication as did his first cousin, Tommy Willis, and his wife, Hazel, in addition to Spalding County Parks and Recreation Director Louis Greene and Spalding County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Freeman.
Although most folks who know the former Fairmont High star - who went onto become an All-Pro offensive tackle with the Dallas Cowboys during the early 1970s - will never forget the “Big Cat,” this further ensures future generations will also not forget about the man.
Two other things that have happened in the past few years also ensure the same thing. The first being Wright’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And the second being the release of his autobiography, “Wright Up Front.”
Wright’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 was his seventh induction into a Hall of Fame of sorts. He was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame at his alma mater, in Fort Valley. He was also inducted in the Griffin-Spalding Athletic Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1984.
Through the years he has also been enshrined in the State Hall of Fame, the Georgia Hall of Fame and the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in addition to being in the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.
The inspiration that derives from Rayfield’s story - with its humble beginnings - however, will forever be captured in his autobiography. It chronicles Wright’s upbringing in Griffin, Ga., all the way to five Super Bowls . To steal a phrase from Wright’s web site: “Rayfield Wright entered this world penniless and poor in material things yet abundantly wealthy in hope and principle.”
Wright’s more immediate legacy, however, will be ensured because of the day-to-day work he does throughout the many communities this father of four has touched.
He is one of the original founders of Kids 4 Tomorrow, a non-profit organization of pro athletes woth work with children K-12. He also contributes to the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers & Sisters, Say No To Drugs, the Boy Scouts of America, Special Olympics, A Place for Grace, Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Nelson center.
Wright, who resides near Fort Worth, Texas, these days, also does inspirational speaking to groups ranging from high school to college students and from churches and national businesses. He has proven to be just as successful off the field as he was on it. He is the President of PetroSun LLC, a minority-owned, all-inclusive oil production corporation and is also the CEO of Wright’s Sports and Nutrition as well as President of the Rayfield Wright Foundation.
Hats off to a man who has never forgotten where he comes from and who has never stopped making the world a better place. My hope is when future generations see that blue and white sign on West Ellis, they stop to take a little time to learn about the man and the wonderful legacy he has carved out and use it as inspiration in their own lives to do every bit as good or better.
Sullivan is the sports editor at Griffin Daily News.