By Dominic Lobianco, UTsports.com
“As you get older, you start to grasp and cherish your previous accomplishments. I’m at that point in my life.”
Those were Terry Crosby’s first words when UTsports.com caught up with him last week. Now he’s getting his opportunity to have his local and national legacy preserved forever. Crosby, a former Volunteers basketball standout, was announced as one of 12 athletes, one for each decade stemming all the way back to the 1950s, to be inducted into the African American Legacy Project's Sports Legends Hall of Fame.
Retired from professional sports, Crosby is being honored some 42 years later as one of the best athletes to come out of Northwest Ohio, the same area that has produced Olympians, top NBA and NFL Draft picks and collegiate All-Americans.
As a budding high-school prospect at DeVilbiss High School, Crosby shined in both football and basketball. A two-way player on the gridiron, he was recruited heavily to play in college as both a running back and safety.
“Michigan, Ohio State, USC all of the big schools were after me from the start,” he said. “Woody Hayes was telling me I could come in and compete for a starting spot at free safety as a freshman.”
But Crosby’s passion at that time was basketball, so hoops would be the choice of his future.
“Any athlete who is blessed with the talent knows how difficult it is to choose. Hoops was a finesse sport more so than football, which is why I preferred it, it fit my style,” Crosby said.
He even had the offer to play at Michigan State alongside Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Ultimately, Crosby chose the Volunteers (he lettered from 1975-79). His first two years, he saw limited minutes sitting behind Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld. However, his junior year he averaged a career-high in scoring with 19.7 points, and finished fourth in the SEC scoring race. One year later, he led the Vols past defending national champion Kentucky three times in his senior campaign, including a run to the very first SEC Tournament Championship under the current format (1979).
Although he was drafted to the NBA by the Kansas City Kings, Crosby played the majority of his professional career in Europe. In Great Britain, where he spent most of his playing time, he once scored a British Basketball League-record 73 points in one game.
Crosby’s fame for his overwhelming success on the gridiron and hardwood is extensive: high school All-American in football and basketball, multiple city and state championships, third-round draft pick in the NBA, Guinness Book of World Records Holder among countless others. But his induction into the Hall of Fame also recognizes his outstanding achievements off the field.
“Where Terry stood out from the other candidates was not just his incredible ability to shine on the field, but his lasting impact on the lives of those he’s affected off the field is what made him a consensus choice,” said Johnny Hutton, the chairman of the African American Legacy.
During his time as a Vol, Crosby earned his degree in Sociology, as he sought to one day help underprivileged children. While overseas, he also earned his second degree in Community and Youth Work Studies from the University of Manchester. This continued when he played professional basketball in Britain. In the offseason, Crosby would work as a mentor/counselor for juvenile offenders in Manchester, England. That line of work stuck with Crosby, even after basketball. Now he is the education director for the Alternative Suspension Program in his hometown of Toledo.
“When children (usually elementary aged) get in trouble, they are allowed a second chance and are enrolled in my program.” Crosby said. “They spend the whole day with me where they learn about peaceful solutions, the importance of education, life skills and other various developmental abilities. We are constantly working toward students becoming more accountable and responsible.”
Terry strives to be the same type of role model he had when he was a youth.
“I had great mentors when I was young, so I always remember not to forget those who influenced me in life,” he said. “I still appreciate those people today, and it’s why I took it upon myself to help others.”
Although the impact of his athletic endeavors is not lost on Crosby, he still remains a humble recipient of such a distinguished honor.
“When they called me to let me know I was the unanimous choice, I didn’t know how to handle it,” Crosby said. “There were so many emotions—tears and everything. Apart from the day I was drafted, this is the highlight of my career.”
The induction ceremony takes place Friday, June 23, in Toledo, Ohio.
ABOUT THE AFRICAN AMERICAN LEGACY PROJECT
Unveiled in 2004, the African American Legacy Project (AALP) of Northwest Ohio has been documenting and preserving the history of Northwest Ohio’s African American community and its impact and influence far beyond Ohio’s borders.
AALP’s continued growth is predicated upon the lack of a definitive historical record documenting the African American experience in our Northwest Ohio communities. Further, the continued loss of cultural symbols and institutions has resulted in negative community influences and growth. The AALP sees an opportunity to serve the community using history as our primary tool.
The mission of the African American sports museum of northwest Ohio as a sports component of the AALP, is consistent with the mission, vision and purpose of the AALP which includes but not limited to discoveries, documentations and preservations of the histories and achievements of African American athletes and coaches or distinguished citizens who have made significant contributions to this genre, regardless of gender whose excellence have made a positive impact and influence upon the African American community in particular and/or the global community in general; and may be recognized and visually memorialized in a permanent venue in perpetuity in said Sports Legends Museum.