William "Shorty" Gray is a 2011 Posthumous Inductee into the HRAASHF. He helped lead the 1956 VIA State Champion Booker T Washington "Fightin Bookers" to an unbeaten and untied season. It was at Maryland State College (now University of Maryland Eastern Shore), as a freshman understudy to the great Johnny Sample, that Gray's accomplishments were a harbinger of performances to come.
In Gray's first two games as a sophomore starter, he took over the rushing leadership in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) averaging 13.5 yards per carry. He earned All-CIAA honors for the 1958-1959 season and was a key member of Maryland State's 1959-1960 CIAA Championship team. By the time William "Shorty" Gray wrapped up his collegiate career he was known as William "The Shadow" Gray and as "The Gray Ghost".
Following his senior year at Maryland State, Gray was drafted by the NFL Buffalo Bills but he never discussed contracts with them. Instead, he signed with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. Gray quickly became one of Saskatchewan's most potent offensive weapons.
With his dazzling style of running and excellent pass catching ability, he was "Mr. Big" of the Roughriders backfield. For the first seven games of the 1963 season, he gained almost 600 yards. 316 of these were rushing yards. Later in the 1963 season, he was felled by a crippling knee injury and never fully regained his ability to run with reckless abandon. He played with Saskatchewan until the 1966-1967 season.
After his Canadian League experience, Gray returned to the States and played for the Orlando Panthers of the Continental Football League, where he was an All-CFL defensive back. Gray ended his playing career with the Norfolk Neptunes as a running/cornerback.
Gray returned to his alma mater in 1973 as an assistant football coach and assumed the responsibilities of the defensive coordinator from 1974 to 1977. He also coached defensive backs at Norfolk State University briefly.
Throughout his career, Gray worked tirelessly to improve the lives of African American youth in his native Hampton Roads region of Virginia. He was a founding member of the Hampton Roads African American Sports Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization established to encourage youth to pursue personal and collective excellence. In 19930, Gray was elected as its first president.
Gray was inducted into the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982.
William "Shorty" Gray passed away on June 23, 2002. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Shirley Hounshell Gray, daughters Dr. Valerie Turner and Euler Edler, and son William C. Gray.
William Lassiter is a nationally recognized basketball coach and ambassador. During his coaching career at Indian River High School, he won four Regular Season Championships, appeared in eleven Regional Championships, and won one State Championship.
Lassiter began his coaching in the Hampton Roads region at Indian River Junior High School in Chesapeake. From 1974-1977, he won 72% of his junior varsity games and went undefeated during the 1976-1977 season.
In 1978, Lassiter was promoted to Head Boys Basketball Coach at Indian River High School. During the next fifteen years, he compiled an impressive record. Lassiter won four regular season championships and nine of ten District Championships. His 1987 team won the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Basketball Tournament. Lassiter's 1988 team had a 51 game winning streak and lost in the semi-finals of the Virginia State Tournament. His 1988 team also won the Sporting News Shootout Tournament held in St. Louis, MO and the Southwest Missouri State Tournament in Springfield, MO.
Lassiter's record garnered national attention. Consequently, he became a ten year consultant to the Boo Williams Summer League and Traveling Squad and was invited to serve as an Assistant Athletic Director at the Nike ABCD Camp in Princeton, NJ. He also has served as a clinician at the Annual Binghamton Basketball Coaches Clinic. While Lassiter was invited by the U.S. State Department to conduct basketball clinics in Turkey in 1990 and in Togo and Mali in 1991, he had to decline because of unrest in those countries.
Argyle "A.B." Whitfield was a highly accomplished scholastic and collegiate athlete. He enjoyed a distinguished high school career at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, VA. Whitfield on to become a three sport letterman at Elizabeth City State University.
At ECSU, he was a four-year starter on the Vikings' football team, captain of the wrestling team, and a member of the track and field team. Since he did not wrestle in high school, his excellence in this sport at the collegiate level is a testament to his intelligence and athleticism.
Whitfield set a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) pass receiving record as a freshman and in 1964, as a senior, broke the then receiving record. He was the first ECSU CIAA heavy weight wrestling champion. Whitfield also was the CIAA discus champion for two years. In his junior year, he earned All-CIAA honors in football, wrestling, and track and field. Whitfield also received All-American recognition in these sports. He was selected as Elizabeth City State's Most Outstanding Athlete in 1964 and 1965.
Upon graduation, Whitfield played professional football with the Montreal Alouettes, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, and the Denver Broncos.
A. B. Whitfield has been inducted into the I. C. Norcom High School and Elizabeth City State University Halls of Fame. He was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Hampton Roads African-American Sports Hall of Fame recognizes African American athletes who were born, spent formative years, or participated in athletics in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. For more information concerning the November 5, 2011 HRAASHF Induction Banquet, contact Yvette Todd at (757) 404-1755.