The 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (LSHOF) inductees competed on the biggest stages and under the brightest lights across the country and around the world. Each one though had a common bond to rural Louisiana. Five of the seven competitive inductees cut their teeth on dirt courts or in grass fields. All four of the other honorees either grew up in small towns or were shaped by rural Louisiana on their way to wildly successful careers.
Led by local Shady Grove High School and Louisiana Tech legend, Angela Turner (Johnson), seven new competitive athletic members joined the LSHOF on Saturday along with the first Louisiana Sports Ambassador Award recipient, Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award winner this year’s Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism recipients.
Additional inductees included: Outdoorsman, Phil “Duck Commander” Robertson, former LSU football coach Nick Saban, eight-time Mr. Olympia world bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman, Sweet Lou Dunbar of the Harlem Globetrotters, New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Horn, UL-Lafayette / Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman and New Orleans native Kerry Kittles, a two-time All-America guard at Villanova and eight-year NBA performer.
The hall will also honor Tim Brando as its first Louisiana Sports Ambassador Award recipient, retired University of Tennessee women’s AD Joan Cronan (Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award) and Robin Fambrough and Kent Lowe, this year’s Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism recipients.
Turner continued her winning ways while at tiny Shady Grove High School, located just south of the Jackson/Bienville Parish line, as she helped turned Louisiana Tech into a national power, capturing the final AIAW national title in 1982 before taking the first NCAA women’s championship in 1983. Tech made four Final Fours in her Turner’s tenure, and the mid-range specialist was the Final Four MVP in 1981.
“We might have been a little town and a little school, but we had big hearts,” Turner said of Shady Grove, which helped form a personality being comfortable out of the spotlight with stud Louisiana Tech teammates. “I am thrilled to be joining three players from those Louisiana Tech teams (Pam Kelly, Kim Mulkey and Janice Lawrence-Braxton) and both of my coaches (Hogg and Leon Barmore) in this hall of fame.”
“At that time, we didn’t know the impact we would have on women’s basketball but we did think we could win a title. Pam (Kelly) and I told our coaches and (President F. Jay Taylor) that we were going to win a national championship. We won two.”
The 2020 Induction Class will be showcased in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The striking two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and has garnered worldwide architectural acclaim and rave reviews for its contents since its grand opening during the 2013 Hall of Fame induction weekend.
A 35-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2020 inductees. The panel considered a record 150 nominees from 31 different sport categories on a 33-page ballot, said Hall of Fame chairman and Jonesboro native, Doug Ireland.
The complete 12-person, Class of 2020 will swell the membership in the Hall of Fame to 445 men and women, including 358 from the competitors’ ballot. This includes 24 Pro Football Hall of Fame members, 18 Olympic medalists including 11 gold medal winners, 11 members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, seven of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players and seven National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.
There are also 37 College Football Hall of Fame members, nine National High School Hall of Famer’s, jockeys with a combined 16 Triple Crown victories, six world boxing champions, seven Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame members, seven College Baseball Hall of Famer’s, 10 College Basketball Hall of Fame inductees, four NBA Finals MVPs, four winners of major professional golf championships, five National Museum of (Thoroughbred) Racing and Hall of Fame inductees and two Super Bowl MVPs.