Born: July 19, 1965
Died: June 14, 2000
Anthony Ellin was born in New Jersey on July 19, 1965. He was a good athlete who played basketball as well as pool during his teens. He grew up in South Carolina after the Ellins moved south in the 1970s. Tony’s specialty was 9-Ball. He was known for his explosive breaks and was nicknamed Hurricane Tony (and also Tony the Tiger). He was often compared to Wade Crane, whose breaks were considered the best in the business. Once he sank 6 balls on one break during a major tournament. By his mid-20s he was one of the nation’s top-ranked touring pros.
In 1993, he was #4 on the Pro Billiards Tour and finished second to Earl Strickland in the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship. In 1994, he won two titles—the Sands Regency and Hard Times Pro-Am. In 1995, he lost a one-rack playoff in the Challenge of Champions, missing an easy shot that would have netted him $50,000 against Nick Varner. Some in the sport questioned whether he missed on purpose. His career seemed to level off after that, although he continued to be one of the better touring pros.
Tony was a popular player—charming with fans and supportive to his peers—and always smiling. As a player, he was highly competitive and known for his hot streaks. His wife, Shelby, was also a good player.
Tony and his family lived in Ladson, a suburb of Charleston, South Carolina. In the spring of 2000, Tony was returning from a morning of fishing when he tried to beat a train to a railroad crossing a few hundred yards from his home in Ladson. He was killed instantly.
In death, Tony gained notoriety several years later as the man who “launched” the career of Kid Delicious, a legendary pool hustler profiled in Sports Illustrated. A series of victories over Tony in a South Carolina pool hall gave him the confidence to shoot pool for a living.