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LeRoy Irvin

Sport: Football

Born: September 15, 1957

Town: Fort Dix, New Jersey

LeRoy Irvin Jr. was born September 15, 1957 in Fort Dix, where his father was stationed as an army officer. Leroy Sr. and Lydia Irvin moved LeRoy and his five siblings to Augusta, Georgia when he was a boy and he began applying his considerable athletic skills to that state’s national game: high school football. LeRoy attended Glenn Hills High and became a great two-way player for the Spartans. He earned several scholarship offers and accept one from coach Bud Moore at Kansas University.

Leroy was the only freshman to earn a starting spot for the Jayhawks in 1976. The star of the team was quarterback Nolan Cromwell—a future NFL defensive backfield mate on the Rams. As a sophomore, LeRoy led the team in tackles with 106, including a 15-tackle performance against UCLA. In his junior year, he set a school record for defensive back with 127 tackles. As a senior he had 21 tackles against Missouri.

The Los Angeles Rams drafted LeRoy in the third round and used him primarily as a punt returner during his first three seasons. In a 1981 game against the Falcons, LeRoy returned punts for a 75-yard touchdown and an 84-yard touchdown to contribute to a thrilling 37–35 victory. He returned a total of 6 punts for 207 to set a single-game NFL record. He finished the year as the league leader in return yards, touchdowns and yards per return, and was named a First-Team All-Pro.

In 1986, LeRoy had an outstanding season as a cornerback. He picked off six passes and also returned a fumble for a touchdown. He was voted First-Team All-Pro at his second position. In 1989, LeRoy was suspended for 30 days when he tested positive for drugs. After the season, the Rams allowed him become a free agent and he signed with the Lions. He started all 16 games and picked off his 35th and final NFL pass. Detroit released him pror to the 1991 season.

After his NFL days, LeRoy tried his hand and several businesses, including a mortgage brokerage, gas station and boxing promotion. In each case, he fell far short of the cash flow to which he’d become accustomed to as a pro football player, and in most cases lost money. In one instance, an associate embezzled more than $20 million. Finally, he followed the advice of friends and family and embarked on a brief coaching career.

LeRoy was inducted into the Kansas University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000. In recent years, he formed business partnerships with former teammates, including Vince Ferragamo and Eric Dickerson.


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