I remember my last conversation with Johnny Sample I was heading south to the memorial services for my coach and mentor CIAA basketball legend, Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines. He said, “Man I am going to try to make it” but I didn’t look for him. Johnny was notorious for not showing up. I have heard all the stories but I don’t ever remember him giving me his word and not keeping it.
He was always there for my celebrity tennis tournaments, media panel discussions, award programs, radio and television talk shows, etc. Compared to today’s pro athlete, he was a Saint and a MAN among boys in the game called life.
Johnny comes to mind because the American Tennis Association (ATA) is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in Baltimore on July 29th through August 5th 2017 and former NFL QB Doug Williams recenty said in the Washington Post “I Am Not a Yes Man”. Johnny Sample’s tennis contribution in the inner-city is second to none and he was nobody’s ‘Yes Man’!
The ATA will induct four tennis notables into its hall of fame to include Richard Williams the man behind and in front of two of the greatest professional tennis players ever, his two daughters Serena and Venus.
I will be in Baltimore to talk with some of the folks who remember the great Johnny Sample and his contributions to the Black American tennis community. The interviews will be seen and heard on my You Tube Channel “The Legends of Inside Sports”!
I remember Johnny Sample as a member on the Board of Directors for my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. for over 30 years. He was a frequent guest on my pioneering radio sports talk show “Inside Sports”.
Johnny and NBA Boston Celtic Legend Red Auerbach co-host the Inside Sports Celebrity Tennis Tournament in Washington, DC
NBA great the late Jim Bad News Barnes and Johnny take a break during a Inside Sports’ Celebrity tennis tournament in DC’s Anacostia Park.
I first saw Johnny Sample in Washington, DC in 1954. He was a member of the Maryland State football team and they were in town to play Howard University at the Cardozo High School football stadium.
I was amazed that he didn’t wear thigh and knee pads; his pants were skin tight. The shoulder pads were so small it didn’t look like he had any on. His level of play that day was like a MAN among boys.