Six people, including Coast natives Jackie Sherrill and Kay James, were inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the Jackson Convention Complex.
Sherrill and James were joined by Sean Brewer, Wesley Walls, Larry Smith and Willie Heidelburg as part of the talent-laden Class of 2016.
James, a Gulfport native, coached 22 seasons at Southern Miss, is the all-time winningest coach in Lady Eagle history with 403 victories.
Sherrill, a Biloxi native, played on two national title teams at Alabama. He coached at Washington State, Pittsburgh, Texas A & M and Mississippi State. He’s the only coach to lead MSU into the SEC championship game.
“To the state of Mississippi, there’s no question I thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here with this honor tonight,” Sherrill said. “Mississippi is a very special place with very special people. Growing up on the coast in Biloxi, I learned quite a few things but one was work ethic. To the Mississippi State family, I thank you for taking me and for teaching me how to be a Bulldog.
“One of the most important roles of a coach is to put his players in the right position to succeed. And I was very, very fortunate because all of my coaches from pee wee to junior high, put me in the right place. I always questioned myself if I did the right things, leaving the practice field, but today, many years later, I know I did the right thing because all of the players I have had the opportunity to coach have been very successful.”
Heidelburg, who died three years ago, played at Pearl River Junior College and Southern Miss. He was the first African American to play at a Mississippi Division I school.
Smith played 13 NBA seasons and best known for leading Alcorn State to a 1979 NIT win over Mississippi State.
Brewer is the first Millsaps College player ever selected for the College Football Hall of Fame and joins his late father, Ole Miss and NFL football star Johnny Brewer, in the MSHOF.