Pair of UK greats headline Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame inductees

Published: Jun. 12, 2019 at 2:14 PM EDT
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A pair of former UK greats headlines the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

Basketball player Derek Anderson and former Wildcats running back Nate Northington are among six new members of the Hall of Fame, it was announced on Wednesday.

Joining Anderson and Northington are former Louisville receiver Deion Branch, former Kentucky State athletics director William Exum, former UK radio broadcaster Ralph Hacker and Owen Co. native Willis Augustus Lee.

The six will be honored in a ceremony on Aug. 19 at the Galt House in Louisville.

Anderson, a Louisville native, played basketball at Doss High School and signed with Ohio State. He transferred to UK and was a member of the 1996 national championship team. Anderson was the 13th overall pick by Cleveland and he played 11 seasons in the NBA, winning a world championship with Miami in 2006.

Northington played football at Louisville’s Thomas Jefferson High School before accepting a scholarship to UK, where in 1967, he became the first African-American player in SEC football history. A statue of Northington and three other players stands just outside Kroger Field.

Branch is from Albany, Georgia, and played football at Louisville. He was an all-conference wideout and was drafted by New England in the second round. Branch played 11 seasons for the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. He earned Super Bowl XXXIX MVP honors with the Patriots, with 11 catches for 133 yards.

Exum is a native of Rock Island, Illinois and became the first African-American football player at Wisconsin. He later served as the athletics director at Kentucky State from 1949-77. He also was chairman of the Department of Health and Physical Education at KSU, was track, tennis and cross country coach there, leading the Thorobreds to the 1964 men’s NCAA Division II cross country national championship. He worked with the U.S. men’s Olympic track and field team and was a member of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field committee.

Hacker, from Richmond, is a sports broadcasting pioneer. His company was instrumental in building one of the nation’s largest college radio networks. Hacker joined Cawood Ledford on the UK broadcasts in 1972, and when Ledford retired, became the Voice of the Wildcats for both football and basketball.

Lee is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who went on to earn seven medals at the 1920 Olympics as a member of the U.S. rifle team. In the Paris games, Lee won five gold medals, one silver and one bronze, a record for a single Olympic games that stood until 1980.

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