CLASS OF 2023
Valdosta native Jackie Bradford was a standout basketball player at Pine Grove High School before landing a scholarship to David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. With the Bison’s, Bradford set a school record with 38 points in one game. He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in 1966. Bradford moved to Atlanta to become head coach, teacher, and ultimately principal at the new Greater Atlanta Christian School. On the court, Bradford posted a 253-82 record claiming three State Championships and 8 Region Titles in twelve seasons. After finishing his coaching career, Jackie was a key figure in the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s rise to prominence. He joined the club’s Board of Directors in 1971 and served as president and executive director. Jackie was instrumental in the Club recognizing and honoring women’s basketball on equal footing with the men. He was front and center in the formation of an annual girls’ high school all-star game. Jackie is a member of the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame.
WILLIAM "BUCK" GODFREY
If ever there was a true renaissance man that coached high school football, William “Buck” Godfrey might fit that mantra. A South Carolina native, Godfrey was an outstanding prep athlete who went on to captain both his baseball and football teams at Delaware State University. In 1983 he took the reins as head football coach at Southwest DeKalb High School. The Panthers were State AAAA Runners-up in 1994, then claimed the title the following season beating Parkview in the championship game. Buck retired after completing his 30th season in 2012 with a career record of 274-89-1 claiming that ’95 State Title and 13 Region Championships. Not only was Buck a standout tactician on the field, as a teacher he helped mold and transform the lives of thousands of young people. Under his tutelage 267 players received college scholarships, with 27 getting Masters Degrees, and seven earning doctorates. Godfrey has authored three books including one about his mentor, the great Eddie Robinson. Panthersville Stadium in Dekalb County was renamed to Buck Godfrey Stadium. Buck is a member of the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia Coaches Hall of Fame.
Born on the tiny Caribbean island of Curaçao, Andruw Jones was in the Major Leagues at just 19 years old. In 1996, he became the youngest player to homer in the World Series; in fact he hit two home runs in his first two at bats against the Yankees becoming only the second player to do so. Jones made the first of his five all-star appearances in 2000 when he hit .303 with 36 homers. In 2005, he set the Braves single-season record with 51 Home Runs and finished second in the MVP voting to Albert Pujols. Andruw was known as one of the best defensive center fielders in Major League history claiming 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards. Jones would make stops with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees before concluding his big league career with 434 homers and 1289 RBI’s. Jones is one of only four players in history to win 10 Gold Glove Awards and hit at least 400 home runs. The other three: Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Schmidt.
Shawn Jones quarterbacked his Thomasville High School Bulldogs to an impressive 11-1 record IN 1987. He earned a scholarship to Georgia Tech and immediately made an impact on the Jackets football program. In 1989, Jones started as a freshman and was the ACC Rookie of the Year helping Tech post a 7-4 season. That strong finish paved the way for the 1990 campaign when magic returned to the Flats. Tech continued their winning ways highlighted by an upset victory over top-ranked Virginia. They capped off the regular season beating Georgia to finish with an unbeaten 10-0-1 mark. When Jones accounted for 3 touchdowns in a dominating Citrus Bowl win over Nebraska, Tech was awarded a share of the 1990 National Championship as the only undefeated team in the country. Jones was named the game’s MVP in the 45-21 rout. For his career at Tech, Jones was a four-year letterman. He accounted for nearly 9,300 yards of total offense, 70 touchdowns and the team posted 35 wins. Shawn is a member of the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame.
Stan Kasten was raised in New Jersey and graduated a high school that offered very little as far as athletics. After earning a law degree from Columbia University in 1976, Stan would have a chance encounter with Atlanta Braves and Hawks owner Ted Turner. The two struck up a friendship and Turner eventually named the 27 year old as General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks, the youngest GM in NBA history. In 1986 Kasten was promoted to team President and with the urging of Turner, Stan also took the role of Braves President that same year. Both franchises enjoyed monumental success. The Hawks made seven straight playoff appearances while the Braves began an unprecedented run of 14 consecutive division championships, including the 1995 World Series title. When Stan took an executive post with the new Atlanta Thrashers hockey team he became the President of three major sports franchises. Kasten would hold all three positions until 2003 when he stepped down. In 2012 Kasten was hired as President as well as becoming part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who claimed the 2020 World Series crown.
Claxton native Al Parker is regarded by many as the most accomplished junior tennis player is history. During 1980 and ‘81, Parker won the Boy’s 12 & under singles and doubles titles at all 4 National Tournaments. He’s the only player ever to capture all available national championships in one age division in one year. In 1986, Al added the 18 & under singles National Title, part of his record 25 national junior championships. When he wrapped up his junior career, Al had competed in 66 national tournaments in either singles or doubles and either won or was a finalist 38 times. Al picked the University of Georgia to play his collegiate tennis. He claimed a pair of national singles crowns, as well as 10 other singles and doubles titles. He was a four-time All-SEC selection, and four-year All-American on the court. Plus, his 4.0 GPA in the classroom earned him the 1991 Academic All-American of the Year award. Parker was added into the University of Georgia Circle of Honor in 2001. He’s a member of the Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame and the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame.
Born in Indiana, Ron Reed was a prep standout who opted for Notre Dame to play college basketball. The 6’6″ forward was drafted in the third round of the 1965 NBA draft by Detroit and also signed a free agent contract with the Major League’s Milwaukee Braves. Reed averaged 8 points and seven rebounds a game for two seasons with the Pistons before deciding to devote his full time efforts to baseball. Reed was on the Atlanta roster in 1969 and he posted 18 wins as the Braves captured their first N.L. West title. Ron spent 5 more seasons with Atlanta including a famous start he won in 1974 when Hank Aaron hit his record 715th home run. Reed was eventually traded to Philadelphia where the Phillies moved the big right-hander to the bullpen joining lefty Tug McGraw. That duo helped the Phils win three straight division crowns and the 1980 World Series. Ron would pitch 17 Major League seasons. He’s one 13 athletes to have played in both the NBA and Major Leagues. In baseball, he’s part of an elite group to have at least 100 wins, 100 saves, and 50 complete games.
A native of south Florida, Mark Richt had several college football offers before choosing the University of Miami. He found that Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, and Vinny Testaverde would all show up to battle him for playing time. When he did see the field, Richt passed for almost 1500 yards. That experience led him into coaching and he landed at Florida State under the legendary Bobby Bowden. As quarterbacks coach and later offensive coordinator, Richt helped guide the Seminoles to two National Championships. In 2001, Richt was named head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Right away he had the Dawgs on top winning the SEC title in 2002 with a 13-1 record. Georgia claimed another SEC crown in 2005. In 2015 Richt ended his 15-year tenure in Athens with 145 wins against just 51 loses. He returned to his alma mater as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes and won 26 games before stepping down after three seasons with 176 career victories. He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2023.