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Retired Lathrop minister gains Hall of Fame nod

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POSTED April 6, 2013 2:38 a.m.

LATHROP — Lu – Lucius to those that know him really well – Davis Jr. will soon forever be etched into the athletic history of Berkeley High School.

A few weeks ago, Davis – a retired reverend that still counsels teens at the San Joaquin County juvenile facility in French Camp and is extremely active in the community – learned that he was being inducted into the Berkeley High Athletic Hall of Fame.

That’s the same Hall of Fame occupied by Don Barksdale – the first ever African-American to play on the United States Olympic basketball team. It’s the same Hall of Fame that longtime baseball bad-boy Billy Martin was also inducted into, and that Phil Chenier – a former Washington Bullets shooting guard that made three all-star teams – calls home.

Naturally, Davis was floored.

“It’s a humbling blessing from God,” Davis said. “To pick me out for the Hall of Fame after all of these years – there’s not much more that you can ask for than that. I just got back from celebrating my son’s induction into the UC Santa Barbara Hall of Fame and the retirement of his jersey – he’s also in the Hall of Fame for Piedmont Hills High School – so for ‘Pops’ to get an honor is remarkable.”

The ceremony will be held on the Allston Way campus on Saturday, May 4.

While the father-son connection is somewhat of an anomaly, Davis is quick to point out that when his stat-line is averaged out with that of his son, the numbers are quite staggering –a 53.6 percent field shooting percentage, 83 percent free-throw percentage and an average of 14.1 rebounds a night. 

Basketball taught Davis a lot that he carried with him – teamwork, leadership, approachability – but the ability to earn a college education, and bestow that importance upon his son, was probably the most important.

“We, as a family, used basketball to get our education,” Davis said. “A lot of kids today allow basketball to use them – you hear a lot about that – but we used to game to get an education, and we both became successful because we took advantage of that scholarship.”

Nearly half a century has passed since he was prowling the hallways of his alma mater. Quite a few things have changed during that time.

But those early days in Berkeley – and the subsequent years at Fresno State – were the most formative of his life and helped lay the groundwork for how he would perceive everything around him in a changing America.

The revolution was truly on his doorstep.

With the Students for a Democratic Society firing up just down the street on the UC Berkeley Campus and a world-class sprinter that would, in a single motion, clue-in the world to American’s civil rights struggle enrolling in classes at San Jose State, Davis would have to balance his own involvement in the struggle for equality with his commitment to a game that gave him the opportunity to earn a college education.

It was Dr. Harry Edwards – the world-renowned sociologist that wouldn’t earn his Ph.D. moniker until 1972 – that gave Davis and his teammates a chance to show their position in a game against San Jose State when all of the African-American players sat out in protest.

“At the time there were only 400 minority students out of 10,000 in cowboy country,” Davis said. “That shaped my whole outlook in dealing with racism and cultural change – the war and everything else that were going through at that time. That was a major part of my life and it’s something that I try to teach the younger children in my family.

“Gil Scott-Heron sings about how “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” and you’re going to find that out whether you’re black, white, Negro or Asian – on the inside or the out. I try to talk to young people about these things that have forgotten how to even live today.”

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