ST. PETERSBURG –For 24 years, the Gibbs Gladiator Alumni Association has been celebrating extraordinary athletes and inducting them into the Gladiator Hall of Fame. This year’s induction ceremony took place last Thurs., March 17 and saw 16 outstanding athletes honored for football, basketball, track, wrestling and swimming.
This year’s ceremony was dedicated to the late Rhonda Jackson, who worked tirelessly in helping start the association, along with Minson Rubin, and served as its vice president.
“The reason why we refer to ourselves as Gladiator Nation is because the name Gibbs High School is bigger than this school where we’re located. It’s bigger than this community; it’s bigger than the state of Florida; it’s bigger than this country,” said Gibbs’ Principal Reuben Hepburn, who explained that their graduates have impacted lives all across the globe.
While playing baseball his sophomore year at Gibbs, he was given the nickname of “Sup,” and it stuck. His junior year he received selections of second team All-City and conference, and his senior year he advanced to the first team All-City, first team Pinellas County all conference and honorable mention All-State.
A member of the Honor Society, after graduating Campbell attended Florida A&M University where he had a stellar Hall of Fame career, culminating with a one year stint with the New York Yankees’ organization in Ft. Lauderdale.
Born in High Springs, Fla., he attended the historic Jordan Elementary School, Sixteenth Street Junior High School where he played on a championship basketball team, won the High Jump Competition on the track team and was the drum major for the marching band.
Graduating from Gibbs in 1966, he went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education, joined the army and began working in radio. He later became the first African American in the Tampa Bay area to report the news on the radio.
Graduating from Gibbs in 1957, she admits the only reason she starting playing basketball was because her high school sweetheart thought he was the best at the sport and she wanted to prove that she was just as good. With that same completive spirit, she recently challenged a young man on the court.
Hayward went on to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Bethune-Cookman College, and worked for the Pinellas Opportunity Council for some 30 years. She has extensive involvement in a variety of political, civic and social organizations.
Graduating from Gibbs in 1954 where he played football, basketball and baseball, he attended Kentucky State University where he played baseball. After college he served in the army for two years, went to graduate school and became a teacher at Melrose Elementary. He also coached junior varsity football from 1964-66.
He moved up north and continued in education until retiring and returning to St. Pete in 1997. Back home he opened up a carwash and is currently on the board of First Tee of St. Petersburg, which teaches youth discipline through learning the game of golf.
Born in St. Petersburg in 1970, Roberson was active in basketball, football, swimming and bike racing. He sustained a neck injury that ended his participation in bike racing and football, so he joined the swim team his sophomore year. He went to State in relay, and at age 15 he worked as a lifeguard.
After graduating from Gibbs in 1988 with a four-year basketball scholarship, he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Service Recreation, Physical Education. He is still active in aquatics and currently works in the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Clearwater where he teaches young boys and girls how to swim.
A native of St. Pete, he played on the basketball team at Lealman Middle School where he played in every game and hit several game winning shots to lead the team to victory. At Gibbs he played all four years on the basketball team, and in his sophomore year he was the MVP of the junior varsity team. That same summer he won the Adult City Summer League One on One Tournament where the St. Petersburg Times called him “Martin the Rifleman.”
In his senior year he was team captain, led the team in scoring and rebounding, played in the Eckerd College Invitational High School Christmas Tournaments and was the Pinellas County Division 4A Tournament MVP.
After graduation he attended Manatee Junior College on a full basketball scholarship and also attended the University of South Florida on a basketball scholarship. He went on to play professionally overseas in Israel and Greece before retiring from the game.
A native of St. Pete, Williams played basketball for Gibbs. He led the county in scoring with a 23.7 average and was selected to First Team All-City, All-County, All-Region, second team All-State and selected North-South All-Star Team.
He received a four-year basketball scholarship to attend Georgia College where he led the Colonials in scoring for four years, averaging 20.3 points per game. He was selected All- Conference First Team all fours years, selected to All-Tournament for four years and the list goes on and on. In 2006 he was inducted into the Georgia College and State University Hall of Fame.
At the urging of his classmates, Wright tried out for the basketball team while attending Sixteenth Street Junior High. The team went undefeated and won the city championship his first year playing.
As a freshman at Gibbs, he was selected for the varsity basketball team and went to the Sunshine Holiday Tournament. The 1970-71 year saw him as the First Team All-City selection and MVP of the Sunshine Holiday Tournament.
After graduation he helped led his Martin Junior College team to a seventh Junior College national ranking. In the 1974-75 season, Wright contributed to Arizona State University’s sixth placed ranking, and in the 1975-76 season, he was selected team Defensive Player of the year. He finished his career in Arizona earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
After graduating from Gibbs in 1963, he attended Stillman College and played basketball and baseball before graduating with a degree in physical education in 1967. He taught PE for several years and was the baseball coach at Pickens County High School in Alabama.
Having a love for the sport, he spent his summers playing baseball in a men’s league until he went to work for BF Goodrich in Tuscaloosa. After 26 years, he retired due to health problems.
Excelling as a football player, Jenkins graduated Gibbs in 1954. He then attended Florida A&M and played on their team, achieving recognition as an All-American in football. He missed going professional due to a fractured shoulder.
After graduating college, he returned to St. Pete and was hired on at Sixteenth Street Junior High School as a physical education coach. He later became a guidance counselor before transferring to Riviera Junior High. While at Riviera, he was an interim coach at his Gibbs.
After graduating from Gibbs in 1954, he did a tour in the Marines and settled in Washington, D.C., where he retired from the transit department. Drayton is said to be one of the best running backs in Gibbs’ football history.
One of the talented team members of the 1956 undefeated championship team; Adams played varsity football for three years, graduating in 196. His daughter Alison Srinivasa accepted his plaque.
Starting in the football nose guard spot in 1968, Starling was one of four sophomores to make the Gibbs team. He played all 10 games, made the County All-Star and was the first 10th grader in Pinellas County to be nominated Honorable Mention All-Conference Nose Guard.
Starling was on the Gibbs wrestling and weight lifting teams that year and complete the season undefeated and was nominated All-Conference in wrestling and placed second in the state 185lb weight lifting class. He also even found the time to sing bass in Gibbs’ choir.
During the 11th grade he was elected co-captain of the football defense team and led the county in tackles and sacks, made the All-Star team, was All-Conference, All-Region and All-State as a defensive nose guard. That year he had another undefeated season in wrestling where he made All-Conference, All-Region and All-State.
As a senior he became captain of the football team where he led the state in unassisted tackles, sacks and was All-Conference, All-Region and All-State. Starling was honored as a Prep All-American and was one of the first two Pinellas County players to be selected to play in the North South All-Star Game. He also had an undefeated season in wrestling.
After graduating from Gibbs, he attended Florida A&M where he played football and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education. His sister Janice Starling-Williams accepted his plaque.
Before graduating from Gibbs in 1972, he lettered in football, track and wrestling. His senior on the football field he was All-City, All-County, All-Conference and 1972 Quarterback Club Award recipient. That same year in wrestling he was district champion.
He earned a full scholarship to Florida A&M where he received the Headhunter Award, the Pepsi Memorial Scholarship Award and was drafted by the New York Giants in the ninth round.
After his football career, he worked for Florida Power and Light Company where he completed a four year Power Plan Mechanic Apprenticeship in two years and was a journeyman Power Plant Mechanic for 15 years.
During his career at Gibbs, King received many awards for his athleticism and well as academic abilities, earning himself a full scholarship to Tulane University in New Orleans.
During his collegiate football career, he was a four-year starter in the quarterback position. He finished his senior year with an 11-0 undefeated season, winning the Conference USA title. He received the Liberty Bowl MVP and Outstanding Offensive Player trophies.
King was the second round draft pick in 1999, and realized a childhood dream of becoming the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While with the Bucs from 1999-2003, he started 22 games, threw for 4,064 yards and 26 touchdowns, leading them to the playoffs in 1999 and 2000. He also played for the Indianapolis Colts, the Las Vegas Gladiators and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Recently he joined the University of South Florida’s coaching staff.
Bomani Akil Lancaster
A 1996 Gibbs graduate, Lancaster played basketball and football. He received a football scholarship to Vanderbilt University and received accolades for his performance on the team. He also received recognition for his academic accomplishments and graduated with a degree in engineering.
He obtained a job with one of the largest construction companies in Tennessee, and went on to open his own company called Mid State Tile. He resides in Tennessee. His father, Pop Lancaster, accepted his plaque.
The Super Bowl High School Honor Roll celebrates the high schools and communities that have contributed to Super Bowl history. This year the NFL sent commemorative golden footballs to every player or head coach who graduated from high school and was on an active Super Bowl roster.
Gibbs alumni Edwards just happened to be on the roster for playing on the winning team in both Super Bowl 9 and 10.
He started his football career at Sixteenth Street Junior High School where naysayers told him he would not make the Gibbs team. After being on the starting lineup in his freshman year and playing all through high school, the naysayers said he’d never make the Florida A&M team.
As he proved them wrong once again, he still heard murmurings that he could never go pro.
“The more they told me that I couldn’t do it, the more he practiced,” Edwards said. “Never let no one discourage you from what you think you can do.”
He returned to his alma mater to dedicate the ball to Principal Hepburn.
Future hall of famers
The ceremony concluded with the introduction of the 2016 football scholarship recipients. These future Gibbs Hall of Fame inductees included Dajuan Johnson, Qu’travien Landers, Wayne Watson, Zipuarious Howard, Marquez Walls and Jhun’tavius Golden-Clay.