Close this search box.

Notables: Sports


Click a link below to read about Port Arthur's sports heroes

notable resident: professional football Player jonathan babineaux

Adding to The SE Texas NFL Mystique

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Jonathan Babineaux attended Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas. He was the team captain of the Bumblebees football team and a first-team All-District linebacker. He also was an excellent punter, averaging 40 yards per punt, and participated in basketball, baseball, golf, and track and field.

Babineaux attended the University of Iowa, finishing his collegiate career with 131 tackles (39 for losses), 19 sacks, 24 quarterback hurries, one interception, two pass deflections, four fumble recoveries, and five forced fumbles.

Babineaux was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round with the 59th overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. In 2009, he had nine tackles and 2.5 sacks against the Washington Redskins. He had a career-high six sacks in 2009, which led all NFL defensive tackles. In 2010, he posted 31 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery, which was returned for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks.

Babineaux started all 16 games in the 2012 season and recorded 3.5 sacks, 31 total tackles, and one interception. In the 2013 season, he recorded 42 total tackles and one sack.

At the end of the 2016 season, Babineaux and the Falcons reached Super Bowl LI. The Falcons fell in a 34–28 overtime defeat to New England. After the Super Bowl, Johnathan Babineaux retired from the NFL after a stellar 12-year career.

Jonathan is the older brother of former Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans safety Jordan Babineaux and is a member of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Sports Hall of Fame.

notable resident: professional football Player Jordan babineaux

Following in brother's footsteps

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Jordan Babineaux attended Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas and went on to college at Southern Arkansas University (SAU). While there, Babineaux set SAU and Gulf South Conference (GSC) records for kickoff return yards in a game with 208 yards, set GSC and tied NCAA Division II records for kickoff return touchdowns in a game with two for 196 yards, and set an SAU record and tied GSC and NCAA Division II records for longest kickoff return for a touchdown with 100 yards, all in SAU’s game against Delta State in 2003.

In 2004, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a defensive back. He is perhaps best known for his diving, game-saving ankle tackle of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo during the 2007 playoffs—a move that stopped Romo at Seattle’s 2-yard line and led to Seattle’s 21 – 20 win over the Cowboys. Babineaux continued to play for the Seattle Seahawks, using his versatility to play both safety and cornerback, until he signed with the Tennessee Titans on August 4, 2011. On October 2, 2011.

In a game against the Cleveland Browns, Babineaux returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown.  He retired from professional football in 2014 but returned to Seattle to do the Pregame and Postgame Seahawks show for 710 ESPN Seattle during the 2015 season.  He is the younger brother of former Atlanta Falcon’s defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux.


One of NFL's All-time greats

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Jamaal Charles attended Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas. During his junior year, he ran for 2,051 yards and 25 touchdowns and was named first-team all-state by the Texas Sports Writers Association and second-team all-state by the Associated Press. The following year, Charles rushed for 2,056 yards and 25 touchdowns and was recognized by the Houston Chronicle as the Area Offensive MVP. He was also named to the 2005 Parade All-America Football Team and played in the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. 

After graduation, Charles attended the University of Texas in Austin. In his freshman season, he rushed 119 times for 878 yards and 11 touchdowns, contributing significantly to the national championship earned by the Longhorns that year. During the 2007 season, Charles rushed for over 1,400 yards, with an average of more than six yards per carry. Against Nebraska, he rushed for 216 yards in the fourth quarter and would have set the all-time record for yards in a quarter had he not asked to be taken out of the game to allow a teammate to get more carries. He ranks fourth in total-rushing yards by a UT player, despite opting out of his senior year at UT to join the 2008 NFL Draft.

Selected in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs, he saw limited playing time, but still showed promise with a 5.3 yards per carry average. In the 2009 season, Charles was promoted to first string and became the only player in NFL history to rush for 1,100 or more yards in 200 or fewer carries and the only running back in NFL history to average 5.9 yards per carry, run 1,000 yards, and catch 40 balls in a season. In 2010, Charles averaged a phenomenal 6.4 yards per carry with 1467 yards and came close to breaking the all-time yards per carry record in a season.  In January of 2010 he rushed for 259 yards against the Denver Broncos and likely would have broken the all time single game rushing record, but he again asked to be taken out of the game to allow a teammate more playing time. He was invited to the 2011 Pro Bowl and named to Pro Football Weekly’s 2010 All-NFL Team.

He is currently the NFL’s all-time leader in career yards-per-carry among running backs with 5.5 yards. He was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.


Champion on the Links

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Marty Fleckman spent 13 years on the PGA Tour in the 1960s and 1970s and is also remembered for his brilliant amateur career.
He played on three NCAA championship teams at the University of Houston and won the individual title in 1965 with a record-setting two-day total of 135. He was named All-American in 1965, won medalist honors at the 1966 Western Amateur, and played on the Walker Cup team in 1967.

While still an amateur, Fleckman played in the U.S. Open in 1967. He led after the first and third rounds but shot 80 on Sunday amid a surge by eventual champion Jack Nicklaus. The last amateur to lead the U.S. Open at 54 holes was Johnny Goodman, 34 years earlier. 
Fleckman won the 1967 Cajun Classic Open Invitational in Lafayette, his first start as a member of the PGA Tour. He is only one of four other players in Tour history to win his first tour event and the first to do it. This was to be his only tour title. His highest finish in a Major was a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship in 1981.
He is currently the Director of Golf Instruction at Blackhorse Teaching Center in Cypress, Texas. One of Marty’s most influential instructors was Byron Nelson. Marty Fleckman was inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame in 1986 and into the University of Houston Hall of Honor in 2006. He is also a member of the Museum of the Gulf Coast Sports Hall of Fame.

notable resident: coach James Gamble

Crafting a basketball dynasty

Museum of the Gulf Coast

James Gamble was born in Texarkana, Arkansas. At an early age, his family moved to Los Angeles, California, where he graduated from Jordan High School. He attended East Los Angeles Junior College on a basketball scholarship. He graduated from Prairie View A & M University in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He also received a Master of Science degree from Prairie View A & M University.

Gamble was an outstanding athlete in high school, where he earned letters in basketball and track. At Prairie View, he was chosen as an All Southwestern Athletic Conference basketball player for two years. He was selected as an All-American in track on two different occasions. He also participated in the 1960 Olympic trials as a long jumper.

James Gamble’s illustrious teaching career began in 1957 at O.J. Thomas High School in Cameron, Texas. After one year of teaching, he served two years in the United States Army. After being discharged from the Army in 1960, he returned to Prairie View A&M University, where he served as Head Track Coach and Assistant Basketball Coach. In 1961, he was called to serve in the U.S. Army because of the Vietnam conflict. After his discharge, Gamble became Head Basketball Coach and Physical Education Teacher at the Port Arthur Lincoln High School in 1962.

During his tenure as teacher/coach at Lincoln High School, he was selected Teacher of the Year and led Lincoln basketball teams to Four State Championships. Additionally, Coach Gamble won five Regional Championships, thirteen Bi-District titles, and sixteen District Championships. He coached several All-Star teams and was voted District Coach of the Year on nine different occasions by his peers. Gamble won 670 games at Lincoln between 1963 and 1988. Prior to the 1998-99 season, Gamble came out of retirement and coached Lincoln to 29-6, and a State Finalist finish.

Coach James Gamble has received many accolades, honoring his storied career:  Prairie View A & M University Hall of Fame (1991), Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame – New Orleans, Louisiana (1994), Texas African American Association Hall of Honor – Houston, Texas (1994), Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame (1995), Southeast Texas Coaches Association Hall of Honor (1997), and Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor. In addition, in 1999, the city of Port Arthur re-named a section of Thomas Boulevard to James Gamble Boulevard. He was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Sports Hall of Fame, in 2021. 

notable resident: PROFESSIONAL football player goose gonsoulin

all-pro on and off the field

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Austin “Goose” Gonsoulin graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1956 and Baylor University in 1960. He ran track in high school and lettered in football, playing running back and defensive back. He was chosen both All-District and All-State. 
At Baylor, Gonsoulin played running back, defensive back, and receiver and was the team captain in 1959.
His professional career began with the formation of the AFL in 1960. Gonsoulin played for the Denver Broncos for most of his career. After the 1962 season, he was chosen for the All-AFL team and started in the AFL All-Star Game. For his last season in 1967, he played for the 49ers. He was named All-AFL safety four times and played in the Pro-Bowl six times. He still holds Denver’s standard for the most interceptions in a season (11) and is tied for the single-game record (4). He held the career interception record (43) until 1987 when Steve Foley broke it with 44.
Gonsoulin was recognized as one of four charter members of Denver’s Ring of Fame. He was also picked for the Broncos’ 20-year All-Star team and was named to the Colorado Hall of Fame in 1984. 

notable resident: PROFESSIONAL football player gary hammond

he could practically play any position

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Gary Hammond grew up in Port Arthur, Texas, and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1968. His father encouraged him to play every sport he could. He was a second-team All-State quarterback in 1967 and a high school All-American in 1968. Heavily recruited by Texas and Texas A&M, he chose Southern Methodist University because he was Methodist. SMU recruiter Dave Smith made sure to visit with Hammond’s pastor on recruiting visits to Port Arthur, and Hammond’s pastor had an active role in the recruiting, according to Hammond.
Hammond was a three-year letterman at Southern Methodist University and was an All-Southwestern Conference wide receiver as a sophomore. In his junior year, coach Hayden Fry moved him to running back to get him the ball more. Hammond started the year at 197 pounds but ended it at 182, stating that opposing defenses just “beat if off of me.” Again, Hammond made the All-Southwestern team, but this time as a running back. He led the conference in receiving in both 1969 and 1970. His senior year, Hammond was finally moved to quarterback after an outstanding season was named the conference’s Player-of-the-Year. He also captained the football team in 1971, when they went to the Hula Bowl, and he received the Kern Tips Memorial Trophy and the Ray McColloch Sportsmanship Award that year.
Hammond was the New York Jets’ third-round draft pick in 1972. While Joe Namath held out for more money, Hammond practiced as the Jet’s quarterback in camp. When Namath came back, Gary was moved to receiver. After an exhibition game knee injury, Hammond tried to come back too soon. In warm-ups before a preseason meeting with Terry Bradshaw and Pittsburgh, Hammond’s knee popped then stuck in place. Hammond had surgery two days later and spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve.

The next year, before the final preseason game, the St. Louis Cardinals surprised the Jets by claiming Hammond off waivers at a time when most teams’ lineups were set. Cardinals coach Don Coryell had noticed Hammond in a college all-star game and liked his versatility. Hammond had received a player of the game award playing both quarterback and receiver. Hammond backed up All-Pro receiver Mel Gray and also played defensive back and returned punts in four years with the Cards. Concussions and other injuries forced Hammond’s retirement after the ’76 season.

Hammond, some say, should have gone to Texas and been on a national championship team. “Had I not played three positions at SMU, would I have been drafted in the third round to play in the pros? I don’t know.” Did he make the right decision? “Oh, absolutely,” Hammond said, pointing to a picture of his wife Beverly, whom he met at SMU. “That’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” Beverly was the homecoming queen in 1971.

Hammond is a member of the SMU Hall of Fame and received the SMU Alumni Association Leadership Award in 1969, 1970, and 1971. He was NFL Alumni Association President in 1986-87 and in 1992 received the NFL Alumni Legends Award. He is enshrined in the Museum of the Gulf Coast-Sports Hall of Fame and shares space there with fellow SMU greats Louie Kelcher, Jerry LeVias, and Jerry Ball.

notable resident: PROFESSIONAL baseball player Xavier Hernandez

Dominated in high school & MLB

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Pitcher Xavier Hernandez graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, where he earned All-State pitching honors and led the team to the Class 5A state title in 1983, with a 19-1 record. He was named the Texas High School Player of the Year. 

Hernandez was drafted out of Southwestern Louisiana in the fourth round by the Toronto Blue Jays and then moved to the Houston Astros in 1989. Primarily a relief pitcher, he remained with the Astros until 1993 when he was traded to the New York Yankees for pitcher Domingo Jean and infielder Andy Stankiewicz. He subsequently played for both the Cincinnati Reds and the Texas Rangers before retiring. His best year was in 1992 when he posted a 9-1 record with 7 saves and a 2.11 ERA. 

He coached in the professional ranks with the Tampa Bay Rays in the Minor Leagues from 2002-2010, where he was the pitching coach for the Charleston Riverdogs (2002-2004), Montgomery (AL) Biscuits (2005-2006) and Durham Bulls (2007-2010).

notable resident: olympic coach barbara jacket

coaching olympic greats

Museum of the Gulf Coast

College and Olympic track coach Barbara Jean Jacket began her athletic career playing softball with high school students at age 10 in 1944.

She was a 1954 graduate of Lincoln High School, in Port Arthur where she participated in basketball and track. After graduating from Tuskegee Institute in 1958, Jacket began coaching track and field. Her 1965 to 1991 teams claimed 8 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) outdoor titles and two indoor titles; won national titles in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and the U.S. Track and Field Federation; won 8 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) cross country titles, nine indoor titles, and five outdoor SWAC titles. Jacket was named SWAC Coach of the Year on 23 occasions and NAIA Coach of the Year five times. Her teams won 23 SWAC championships, and Jacket tutored 57 All-Americans. In 1990, she became the only women athletic director in the SWAC when she was named to the position at Prairie View.

As coach of the 1992 U.S. Women’s Olympic Track Team, Ms. Jacket had the enviable task of coaching such greats as long jumper Jackie Joyner-Kersee and sprinters Gwen Torrance, Gail Devers, and Evelyn Ashford. The Women’s team won 4 Gold Medals, 3 Silver Medals, and 3 Bronze Medals, more than any group since 1956. She was the second Black female to coach an Olympic team; the first was her track coach at Tuskegee, Dr. Nell Jackson, who coached in 1956. They also set a record in the 400-meter relay.

Jacket worked at Prairie View A&M University for more than 30 years, including 25 years as head women’s track and field and cross country coach and five years as the university’s athletics director.

notable resident: PROFESSIONAL basketball player Stephen Jackson

one of lincoln's finest ever

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Stephen Jesse Jackson wanted to play basketball from the time he was four years old. Many of Jackson’s relatives in Port Arthur, Texas, played on Lincoln High School State Championship teams. During his junior year in high school, Jackson led Lincoln High School to the State Championships. He was the high scorer and made All-American.
After graduation, Jackson went to play pickup basketball at the Phoenix Suns summer camp. Suns coach Danny Ainge saw Jackson’s potential, and in 1997, Jackson was drafted but later waived by the Suns. Encouraged by Ainge to play overseas for more experience, Jackson played in Australia, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.
After playing overseas, the 200-pound, 6-foot-8 guard/forward was finally ready to try for the NBA again. He signed as a free agent with the New Jersey Nets in October of 2000 and joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2001. In 2003 Jackson scored 17 points for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA championship game against the New Jersey Nets, winning the championship. In 2003, Jackson was a free agent with the Atlanta Hawks. Following the 2003-04 NBA season, the Hawks traded Jackson to the Indiana Pacers. On January 17, 2007, the Indiana Pacers traded Jackson to the Golden State Warriors. He also played for the Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks before returning to San Antonio in 2012. He retired from the Los Angeles Clippers on July 22, 2015.
Jackson has since pursued community center and school projects in California, where he resides. For several years, he also held a basketball camp for children in the Port Arthur area.

Jackson is currently host for the digital video podcast “All the Smoke with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson”. The video podcast is available on Showtime Basketball’s YouTube platform and other audio outlets such as iTunes and Spotify. The show has had guests such as Kevin Garnett, Snoop Dogg, Kevin Durant, Al Harrington, Shannon Sharpe, Chris Paul, Lil Wayne, Draymond Green, Deion Sanders, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. The podcast had the last exclusive interview with Kobe Bryant before he passed away.

Jackson was a close friend of George Floyd, who drew international attention when he was killed by police in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Jackson received media attention for an impassioned speech he gave at a protest rally in Minnesota. Jackson and Floyd called each other “Twin” due to their similar physical appearance.

notable resident: football Player, coach jimmy Johnson

mastermind of championships

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jimmy Johnson first earned football accolades at Thomas Jefferson High School (now Memorial High School) in Port Arthur, Texas as a two-way lineman.
Attending the University of Arkansas, Johnson became an All-Southwest Conference defensive lineman and helped lead the team to the 1964 national championship. Undefeated, the team was voted national champions by the Football Writers Association of America. He was a three-year letterman and named to Arkansas’ All-Decade Team of the 1960s.
Johnson began coaching at Louisiana Tech in 1965, where he helped recruit Terry Bradshaw from Shreveport, Louisiana. He spent two years at Iowa State under Johnny Majors and was part of Chuck Fairbanks’ Oklahoma staff from 1970 to 1972. He returned to Arkansas in 1973 as his alma mater’s defensive coordinator. In 1977, Johnson went to Pittsburgh as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. In his two years there, he ran one of college football’s all-time great defenses. 
Johnson’s first head coaching job was at Oklahoma State in 1979, where he coached the team into national prominence. He compiled a 29-25 record and had two bowl appearances. 
In 1984 Johnson was hired as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes. The Hurricanes had won a national championship the year before, and many in Miami were skeptical of the choice. After a shaky start, however, Johnson developed the Hurricanes into one of the best teams in the country. In his five years in Miami, the team went 52-9, played in 5 New Year’s Day bowl games, played for two national championships, winning one in 1987.
On February 25, 1989, Johnson was named by Jerry Jones as the replacement for legendary Dallas Cowboy’s head coach Tom Landry. Jones and Johnson had been teammates at Arkansas. Johnson’s first season was a dismal 1-15, but he made one of the most lopsided trades of all time when he sent Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings and parlayed the resulting draft picks into six high-quality players. With Troy Aikman, Emmett Smith, and an amazing stable of other talented players, Johnson put together, the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII in 1992 and Super Bowl XXVIII in 1993 (defeating the Buffalo Bills in both Super Bowls).
After Johnson was unable to continue to work with Jerry Jones, he left the Cowboys and eventually spent three years coaching for the Miami Dolphins before his retirement from the NFL. The talent he put together was so dominant, the Cowboys were able to win another Super Bowl 2 years later. He is currently an analyst for Fox NFL Sunday, on its NFL pregame show, sitting alongside Terry Bradshaw, one of the first players he ever successfully recruited as an assistant coach.
In 1993 Jimmy Johnson was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Sports Hall of Fame. Johnson was also inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. In May 2012, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 2020 Jimmy Johnson was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame. Johnson is one of only two players/coaches to have won a national championship as a player in college, coached a national championship NCAA team, and coached a team to a Super Bowl win.

notable resident: professional boxer Paul Jorgensen

short career, longtime impact

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Boxer Paul Jorgensen was born in Tallulah, Louisiana, but lived in Port Arthur “his whole life.” He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1952.
As an amateur boxer from 1950 to 1953, he had three managers, including Dick Menchaca. He won Golden Gloves and Amateur Athletic Union titles during that time. Jorgensen turned professional in 1953 while attending the University of Houston. He made his professional debut on April 28, 1953, with a four-round points win against Baby Valdez in Houston, Texas. Jorgensen won his first 16 fights, including a win against Eddie Bertolino on June 1, 1954. It was in the rematch against Bertolino on September 28, 1954, that Jorgensen suffered his first loss.
He won the state featherweight title on August 1, 1955, in the old Seahawk Stadium in Port Arthur. He lost the world junior lightweight title fight to Harold Comes at Providence, Rhode Island, in 1959.
Like many boxers of his day, Jorgensen fought frequently – often twice a month. Jorgensen continued to fight and generally to win, facing tough competition like Redtop Davis, Lulu Perez, Jackie Blair, Carmelo Costa, Victor Manuel Quijano, Harold Gomes, and Battling Torres.
Jorgensen retired after losing to Battling Torres on September 6, 1960. He managed to stack an amazing number of fights (93) into a relatively short career (7½ years). His final record was 81 wins (35 by knockout), eight losses, and four draws. 

notable resident: professional football player bobby Leopold

Another PA Super Bowl Champion

Museum of the Gulf Coast

NFL linebacker Bobby Leopold graduated from Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1976.  He lettered in track and football at Lincoln, earning All-District honors in the super 20 and the shot put.
Leopold attended Notre Dame on a football scholarship setting a school record for interceptions returned for touchdowns.  He graduated in 1980, earning a degree in economics.
In 1980, Leopold was drafted in the 8th round by the San Francisco 49ers. After a stellar first year, he was voted to the NFL All-Rookie team. On January 25, 1982, he became a Super Bowl Champion when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 26-21. Leopold played professional football for eight years with the 49ers, Packers, and the USFL New Jersey Generals and was chosen All-Pro in the USFL in 1984.
He retired in 1988, and returned for a time to Port Arthur,  teaching Economics at Memorial High School. 

notable resident: professional football player Elandon Roberts

a super bowl ring for each hand

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Elandon Roberts (born April 22, 1994) is a linebacker in the National Football League who is known primarily for his time spent playing for the New England Patriots. He attended Memorial High School in Port Arthur, where he was a member of both the football team and the track and field team. He attended college at Morgan State as a freshman and then transferred to the University of Houston. The 107 tackle total he amassed at Morgan State marked the second-best single-season effort in program history, and Roberts also had nine tackles for a loss, two sacks, one interception, and two pass breakups as well.

As a senior in 2015, Roberts was a team captain at the University of Houston and had 142 total tackles, which was good enough to lead the American Conference and place him fourth in the nation. However, his 88 solo tackles led all of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division 1-A)
Roberts was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round, 214th overall. He made his first NFL start on October 16, 2016, against the Bengals and tied for second-highest tackles on the team with seven in that win.

In his second year in the NFL, Elandon made 14 starts for the Patriots.  Roberts was part of the 2017 Patriots team that won Super Bowl LI and recorded two tackles as the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. The Patriots trailed 28–3 in the third quarter but rallied back to win in the first overtime game and the largest comeback in the Super Bowl history.
In his third season, Roberts played in all 16 regular-season games and started 11 of them. He deflected a career-high four passes and recorded one sack. Roberts also made 31 solo tackles, including six tackles for losses, and assisted on another 34 tackles. Again, the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl, defeating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 on February 3, 2019. Roberts played in all three postseason games, recording six solo tackles in the Super Bowl, including one tackle for a loss.

In 2019, Roberts was voted a team defensive captain. He was a member of the team’s high-performing linebacker corps, dubbed “The Boogeymen” by teammate Dont’a Hightower. Starting in Week 7, he began to play on offense as well as defense, where he was primarily used as a fullback after injuries to teammates. Roberts finished the season with 29 tackles, a sack, a pass defense, and a tackle for loss. Roberts scored his first career touchdown against the Miami Dolphins on December 29, 2019, when he caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady during the 27–24 loss.

On March 24, 2020, the Miami Dolphins signed Roberts to a one-year, $2 million contract that includes a $1 million signing bonus. He was named a starting inside linebacker and played in 13 games with 11 starts, recording 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
Roberts re-signed with the Dolphins on March 24, 2021.

After performing at Houston’s Pro Day on March 24, 2016, Roberts said, “the team that pulls the trigger on me is getting the best linebacker in the draft” and predicted that he was headed for the Super Bowl and the Hall of Fame. So far, his instincts look pretty good – as he now has two Super Bowls and induction into the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Hall of Fame (which he visited as a third-grader) under his belt.​ Memorial High School also retired his football jersey.

notable resident: professional driver Coleman Roddy

the fastest guy you know

Museum of the Gulf Coast

 From a modest initial goal of just wanting to do well enough to see his name printed in National Dragster, Port Arthur’s Coleman Roddy blazed a path of driving glory that twice took him to the pinnacle of the National Hot Rod Association’s drag racing wars. Instead of merely going on to be mentioned in National Dragster, Roddy wound up featured in its cover for winning back-to-back NHRA Winston Competition eliminator titles in 1983 and 1984, something no other driver accomplished, before or since.

Roddy might have set the bar even higher, but he retired after the 1984 championship to devote more time to the Port Arthur and Nederland used car dealerships – R&R Auto – that he operates with his father.  Roddy’s meteoric rise onto the national racing scene began in the late ’70s behind the wheel of a ’68 Camero. His first significant win was in 1976, when he captured Modified honors at the Division 4 Winston Series race at State Capitol Dragway in Baton Rouge.

The escalation to the big time came five years later when NHRA did away with the Modified eliminator class, which led him to switch to a ’65 Corvette gasser and move into the Competition Eliminator category. There would be another car change after the 1983 title – this time to an ’84 Pontiac Firebird – but nothing slowed Coleman Roddy’s pursuit of greatness. In addition to the NHRA Winston Competition eliminator titles in ’83 and ’84, his three-years of domination included twice winning the Winter Nationals, being named Sportsman Racer of the Year, and earning the Quaker State Sportsman Cup.

notable resident: professional boxer Wilford “The Scorpion” Scypion

many stung by the scorpion

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Wilford “The Scorpion” Scypion was the National Golden Gloves Middle Weight Champion of 1978. He had tried out for the U.S. boxing team for the 1976 Olympics, but did not make the team. He turned pro not long after his Golden Gloves title and went on to have a 32-9 record, with 24 of those decisions by knockout.

After winning the USBA’s regional Middle Weight title fight against Frank “The Animal” Fletcher on February 3, 1983, Scypion was set for the highlight of his career: fighting “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler for the WBA, WBC and WBO championship titles – the first bout in history to decide all three. Scypion met Hagler in the ring on May 27, 1983 in Providence, Rhode Island. Despite his best efforts, Scypion was knocked out in the fourth round.

After the Hagler fight, Scypion’s career took a downward turn and he lost five of his next eleven fights. He decided to hang up his gloves in 1991. In recognition for his achievements, he had received the Key to the City of Port Arthur from the Mayor in 1983.

notable resident: professional boxer Ronnie Shields

his gloves were gold, and lethal

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Born June 6th, 1958, in Port Arthur, success came early for boxer Ronnie Shields. In 1974 he was the National Junior Olympics Featherweight champion. At the age of seventeen, he won the National Golden Gloves Featherweight Championship. Shields won two subsequent National Golden Gloves titles in the light welterweight division. Later in 1975, he represented the United States in an Amateur Athletic Union boxing tour in Germany. After making the transition from amateur to professional boxing in 1980, Shields earned a record of 26-6-1 as a light welterweight contender.

During his career as a professional boxer, Shields twice challenged for a world title and was ranked in the top ten for five consecutive years by all of boxing’s sanctioning bodies. Ronnie Shields’ professional boxing career included his win of the North American Boxing Federation light-welterweight strap. Shields retired from professional boxing in 1988 but continues to be involved in the sport as a successful trainer.

He has trained John Molina, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and many others. In 2003, Shields was named Trainer of the Year by the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

notable resident: professional football player Little Joe Washington

nothing 'little' about his impact

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Star running back, “Little Joe” Washington at 5’9″, attended Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, where he was the class President.  His father Joe Washington, Sr., was the head coach.  With his brother Ken at quarterback, the Washingtons led Lincoln to an unbeaten regular season in 1971. Their biggest win coming against Port Neches-Groves, and their All-American running back Jeff Bergeron. Although Little Joe grew up a UT fan (he used to salute when Darrel Royal’s TV show aired), his high-school sweetheart attended Texas Women’s University in Denton, so Joe opted to play for the Oklahoma Sooners. He has also stated that he knew Darrell Royal wouldn’t let him wear his silver shoes. 

Called “my greatest player” by Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer during his induction to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Washington showed he was something special from the very start. During his first scrimmage in 1972, Joe’s first carry was for an 80-yard touchdown. That year, he ran for 630 yards – – all as a ball carrier from scrimmage. In 1973 he rushed for 1,173 yards.

Following his junior year, Washington made every All-America team; AP, UPI, NEA, Football Writers, Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News, and Football News. He rushed for 1,321 yards, ran returns for 512 yards, and scored 14 touchdowns. He was the Pigskin Club’s Player of the Year and came in third for the Heisman Trophy. As a collegiate athlete, Washington’s finest day came on October 19, 1974, in a game against Colorado. He rushed for 211 yards in 19 carries (at 11.6 yards per carry) and scored four touchdowns. Washington was a two-time first-team All-American, and also finished fifth in the Heisman balloting his Senior year. His Oklahoma Sooners teams were National Champions in 1974 and 1975.

Moving to the NFL, “Little Joe” was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1976 as the fourth overall pick. He was traded to the Baltimore Colts in 1978, where he stayed through the 1980 season. In 1979 he led the NFL in receiving with 82 catches and made the pro-bowl.

He then played for the Washington Redskins from 1981 through 1984. In his most memorable game, before a national audience on Monday night, Washington threw for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass, and returned a kickoff for 90 yards with a minute and a half left in the game to give his team the lead-all in the fourth quarter. Howard Cosell proclaimed it one of the finest Monday night performances ever. 

He remains the only NFL player to have ever accomplished this feat in a single game.  He is the only player in the team’s history to lead in both rushing and receiving in the same year.  In 1982, he and his Washington team became Superbowl Champions. He retired in 1985 after spending one season with the Atlanta Falcons.

“Little Joe” Washington is in the College Football Hall of Fame, and is also enshrined in the Museum of the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame.  He is the author of the book, The 7 Secrets of the Silver Shoes.

notable resident: athlete babe Didrikson Zaharias

greatest of the 20th century

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Mildred Didrikson Zaharias is widely considered to be the greatest female athlete of all time. She was born in Port Arthur, and her family moved to Beaumont when she was four years old. The Port Arthur Historical Society was successful in placing a historical marker on the site of her childhood home in Port Arthur. 

Better known as “Babe” Zaharias, she was a multi-talented athlete of astounding prowess. Early in her career, she played forward for the semi-professional Golden Cyclones women’s basketball team in Dallas, the national champions from 1930 to 1932. Competing in the Amateur Athletic Union Championships in 1932, she was entered in eight of ten track events. She won five of them outright and tied for a sixth. Despite being the only person on the team, she single-handedly won the team championship outright for the Golden Cyclones.

At the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, she won two gold medals and a silver, breaking world records in four different events-the javelin toss, high jump, softball throw, and 80-meter hurdles. 

Babe came from a working-class background and was a tireless self-promoter, delighting in the kind of publicity stunts which challenged the public’s idea of women as the weaker sex. She pitched at spring training for the St. Louis Cardinals, held golf ball driving exhibitions with Gene Sarazen, played donkey-softball with an all-male, all-bearded touring softball team, and at one point even challenged the winning horse of the Kentucky Derby to a foot race. Babe’s second nickname became the “Texas Tomboy.” In 1934, she played for the men’s baseball team, the New Orleans Pelicans, against the Cleveland Indians, pitching two scoreless innings. Didrikson is still recognized as the world record holder for the farthest baseball throw by a woman.

As Babe grew older, she drew more and more disapproval for her “unwomanly” activities. She came to the painful realization that further success depended on recasting herself to conform to the accepted notions of femininity. In 1938, she met and married George Zaharias, a well-known wrestler. After the tennis community rejected her, Golf became Babe’s focus, and George became her manager.

Babe is said to have taken her first golf lesson in 1931 and won her first event in 1935. A local professional, however, once stated that the two of them played the game together while growing up. Babe revolutionized women’s golf, setting standards for play and attracting large purses, which helped to legitimize it. She helped found the LPGA in 1950. During her professional career, she won 31 tournaments. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1953 but continued to play golf and somehow continued to win tournaments. She won 17 straight women’s amateur tournaments, a feat never equaled by anyone. By 1950, she had won every golf title available. Totaling both her amateur and professional victories, Zaharias won a total of 82 golf tournaments.

During her final years, Didrikson became known not only for her athletic abilities but as a public advocate for cancer awareness, at a time when many Americans refused to seek diagnosis or treatment for suspected cancer. She used her fame to raise money for her cancer fund and as a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. Her work in this area was honored by US President Dwight Eisenhower on a visit to the White House.

She is a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame and was posthumously awarded the 1957 Bob Jones Award for distinguished sportsmanship. Babe is the only track and field athlete, male or female, to win individual Olympic medals in a running, throwing, and a jumping event.

Zaharias has a museum dedicated to her in Beaumont, Texas. In 1981, the U.S. Postal Service issued an 18 cent stamp commemorating her. The Babe received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on January 7, 2021. She is also a member of the Sports Hall of Fame at The Museum of the Gulf Coast.