Our hometowns can have a profound influence on our future. Famous black athletes from Jacksonville, FL and how the city shaped their careers.
Jacksonville, FL is the hometown of many famous celebrities from all sectors of the entertainment world. Many of these individuals are professional athletes—people who have gone above and beyond within their sport. The kind of athletes that practice year-round and endure ice baths and cryotherapy, all in the name of perfecting their craft. Below are some of the most famous black athletes from Jacksonville, Florida.
An Olympic sprinter who became an NFL superstar, Jacksonville will always celebrate Bob Hayes for his one-of-a-kind career. Arguably one of the fastest sprinters of all time, Hayes won two gold medals in the 1964 Olympic games. Shortly after, he went on to sign a contract with the Dallas Cowboys and would become one of the most dynamic receivers the NFL has ever seen due to his speed. His biggest accomplishment—he’s the only athlete in the world to have won both a Super Bowl ring and Olympic gold medal.
Carmichael hails from William H. Raines High School, which is notorious for producing some of the most talented NFL players over the years. Carmichael was no exception; after attending Southern University in Louisiana, he decided to make a career out of football. The Philadelphia Eagles chose him in the seventh-round of the 1971 NFL Draft, and he would go on to play 13 seasons with them as a wide receiver. Statistically, Carmichael remains the best receiver in Eagles’ history with 590 receptions, 8,985 yards, and 79 touchdowns in his career.
Just like Harold Carmichael, Brain Dawkins was another NFL superstar to come from William H. Raines High School. After completing his high school education, Dawkins went to play football at Clemson University. His outstanding college football led to the Philadelphia Eagles drafting him during the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft. He would play for the Eagles throughout the majority of his career. His career spanned 16 seasons total, tallying 37 interceptions and 513 interception return years. In 2018, Dawkins’ prolific career landed him in the NFL Hall of Fame.
At this point, it’s no surprise to learn that Greg Coleman is another William H. Raines High School alum to have a successful career with the NFL. Another beloved famous black athlete from Jacksonville, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Coleman on behalf of the Cleveland Browns in the 14th round of the 1976 NFL Draft. Coleman instantly made history when he entered the league, becoming the first African-American to play exclusively as a punter. Coleman averaged 40.6-yard punts in his career playing for the Browns, Minnesota Vikings, and Washington Redskins.