Editor’s Note: This is the tenth installment of the When Marion Played Sports series. Click the link to see all the articles in the series.
By Jackie Hunt
Legacies – “something that is a part of your history or that remains from earlier time”… Cambridge Dictionary.
It would be hard to discuss sports legacies around Marion, LA without starting with the Douglas family. What started with James Douglas finding his way to colleges in Kansas, and then Texas to play basketball, baseball, soccer and run cross-country has now spanned four decades and a national record that has stood for over 40 years.
From Douglas and his siblings (12 in all) there came a next generation of young men and women who played at colleges around the country in a variety of sports. 10 of the group played varsity ball in high school. Here is a synopsis of what their children did:
Bobby Joe, the national record holder, saw his son Brandon play basketball at Panola Junior College in Texas.
Betty Douglas Wayne’s (husband Larry Wayne) son, Juan, played basketball at Coker College, a division II school in Hartsville, South Carolina.
Barbara Douglas Keesee’s son Kedrick played basketball at the University of Southwestern Louisiana.
Andrian Caldwell, the son of the youngest of the Douglas girls, Shelia, forged a solid basketball career at Paine College in Augusta, Ga. During his senior year he started 21 of the teams 29 games at point guard.
Former Sterlington High football star, DeShanti Mitchell is the son of John, the second youngest of the Douglas clan. The running back/free safety drew interest from Stanford and Georgia Tech before eventually playing for Tyler Junior College and Arkansas Tech. A serious knee injury during his sophomore year limited his potential for greatness after a strong career at Sterlington.
The youngest of the group, Andre boasts five children that played college sports across the South. Daughter Andria was a member of the Georgia Southern Eagle track squad. Her brother Ja’Von was one of the best long jumpers in the ACC during his four years at North Carolina State, jumping into the top three in 14 separate meets including seven first place jumps in seven of those meets. His personal best jump of 8.08 meters at the Clemson Bob Pollock Invitational was the second longest indoor jump of the entire 2022 college season. That’s 26.5 ft if you are measuring.
Twins Justin and Austin chose the football route, with Austin playing at James Madison and Mercer University and Justin at Southeast Louisiana and North Alabama. The youngest son, Andrew, is currently a promising sophomore defensive back at Georgia Southern. He has seen playing time as both a freshman and sophomore.
The Douglas family grew up and played in the Mount Union Church area of Marion with another athlete whose child would achieve high athletic success. Albert Jackson, whose backyard hosted the basketball court, played with and against the Douglas boys daily. Their court was a 40 ft piece of dirt with a goal set up at each end. As they battled for court bragging rights, they could not have imagined what their off spring would go on to do.
Jackson married a local girl, Lynda Rivers, whose family tended to grow tall. The couple took the family trait to a new level with their son Almaad. The younger Jackson grew to 6’ 10” and used the height to star as a center at Alcorn State in Mississippi and play professionally on three continents. He played for Lnbp-Pilares in Mexico in the National Professional League before making stops in Israel and Portugal.
After college the lean center averaged over 20 points per game in Mexico. While on the Sampaense squad in the Portuguese Professional Leage, he posted 19.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in 2010 and 2011. The final professional stop for Almaad was with Hapoel Yokneam in the Israeli National Leage, where he again put up solid stats (18.2 pts and 8.3 rebounds). He is now teaching and coaching high school basketball in the Dallas area.
Mount Union Hill has produced more than it’s share of athletes and they have moved the legacy a generation forward. In future articles we will discuss other families who have passed the buck on to their children.