(WSYR-TV) — The presence of Ernie Davis is felt almost everywhere when stepping onto the campus of Syracuse University, but that does not explain his whole story.
Davis passed away from Leukemia in 1963, but Monday marks 60 years since he made history by becoming the first African-American and the first-and-only Syracuse star to win the Heisman trophy.
From statues, fields and schools, to the Salt City, the Southern Tier and Cleveland, Davis’ impact is long lasting.
Here’s a look at the incredible life and legacy of the ‘Elmira Express’ Ernie Davis.
- Davis was born in New Salem, Pennsylvania.
2. At age 12, he went to live with his mother and stepfather
3. Played baseball, basketball and football at Elmira Free Academy
4. Committed to Syracuse in 1958
6. Davis is nicknamed the Elmira Express
7. Al Mallette of the Elmira Star Gazette coined the nickname
8. Was roommates with John Brown at Syracuse
10. Rushed for 2,386 yards at Syracuse
11. 5th all-time in program history with 28 rushing touchdowns
12. Davis also played basketball at Syracuse for one season 1960-1961
14. The former Elmira Free Academy school building is now the middle school, and it has been renamed Ernie Davis Academy
15. Davis was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, a nationally recognized Jewish fraternity, and was the first African American to join nationally
16. He was a two-time consensus all-American while at Syracuse
17. Was drafted no. 1 overall in the 1962 NFL Draft by Washington
18. Davis was traded to the Browns nearly two weeks after the draft
19. Two days before the NFL, the Buffalo Bills selected Davis 4th overall, he never signed with the Bills
20. Davis signed a three-year, $200,000 contract with the Browns
21. Davis was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1962
23. Cleveland retired his number 45 after Davis’ passing
24. Davis is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira
25. In 2007, a movie about Davis’ life started production
27. Actor Rob Brown portrayed Ernie Davis
28. The best Section IV senior football players are selected to play in the “Ernie Davis” classic every fall
29. Ernie Davis is a bronze statue created by Italian-American artist Bruno Lucchesi which stands on SU’s campus between Hendricks Chapel and the Physics building