LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) -- One of Big Blue Nation’s all-time greatest athletes Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones has passed away at the age of 88.
Born in Harlan Co., Jones was an All-American under both Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant and is the only Kentucky player to have his number retired in in both basketball and football.
Former Kentucky quarterback Freddie Maggard said Jones has had an enormous impact.
"I've actually studied his career and he was a true inspiration to me," Maggard told WYMT Sunday night on the phone. "I played three sports in high school and was not nearly as accomplished as him and nobody is or ever will be, but he was an inspiration, I think, then and now, that young people need to play multiple sports and not focus or single out one and specialize, but play all of the sports and represent the name of the school on the front of your jersey. And I think by doing that, that's one way we can remember Wah Wah Jones."
Jones was the last remaining member of UK's "Fabulous Five" that won the 1948 and 1949 National Champiopnships.
He also went to four state tournaments as a Harlan Green Dragon, winning a state title in 1944.
"I think the Commonwealth can come together and honor the best athlete that ever has been or ever will be in the state of Kentucky, Wah Wah Jones," Maggard said. "He is undeniably the best athlete to ever play sports in Kentucky, not only at the University of Kentucky but highs school and all the way through. He is a Kentucky legend and a Kentucky gentleman that will be remembered."
"One thing I do remember about Wah Wah is seeing his picture in the gym at Harlan High School and that gave inspiration to athletes like myself seeing his picture and seeing all that he did. He laid a path to Lexington that said it was OK for boys and girls like me to dream, and maybe one day I could play at UK and it was a realistic goal and that's what Wah Wah Jones means to me."
Jones teamed up with Phillips Oilers to win the Gold Medal at 1948 Olympics.