Tuesday, July 12, 2016

FAMU's Waite Bellamy transformed himself from football standout to basketball great

BRADENTON, Florida -- Waite Bellamy was destined to be a standout football player, but he did what many people would consider the unthinkable. He fell in love with basketball and switched sports.

A highly touted center and offensive tackle on Lincoln’s successful football team during his sophomore and junior years, Bellamy decided he couldn’t turn away from his true passion, though he admits the transition was not easy.

Bellamy (no relation to Lincoln great Ray Bellamy) turned himself into one of the greatest basketball players to ever come out of Manatee County. Some even consider him a step above Clifford Rozier, the county’s only first-round NBA draft pick.

Bellamy also was an excellent student and president of the Lincoln student body when he walked the through the graduation line in 1959.

Ray Bellamy, who broke the color barriers for major college football players in the southeast in 1966, said Waite Bellamy was one of those guys who made it happen.

“He was also captain of the football team and student body president. You don’t do things like breaking down those barriers alone. It takes a lot of people,” Ray Bellamy said. “He was an excellent student and set an example for all of us both in the classroom and in athletics. He was an inspiration for me.”

Waite Bellamy went to Florida A&M, where the coaches gave him the choice of playing football or basketball. At 6-feet-4 and possessing a variety of skills, he chose the latter, which arguably turned out to be the right decision.


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