During his time at LSU, former All-American linebacker Bradie James had to bury both of his parents.
In the most trying of times, he discovered a new family among his college teammates.
“When you have family,” James said Friday night, “you become accountable to them.
“I found my family.”
It was a familiar theme Friday night as James and six other LSU greats were inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in a ceremony in downtown Baton Rouge at the Capitol Park Museum.
Also enshrined Friday: Jason Williams, baseball; Susan Jackson, gymnastics; Meredith Duncan, women’s golf; Walter Davis, track and field; Ashlee Ducote, softball; and Kevin Jackson, wrestling.
James was a 2002 first-team All-American linebacker and was named a 2002 National Scholar-Athlete by the National Football Foundation. He was also a semifinalist for the Butkus and Lombardi awards and a two-time All-Southeastern Conference pick.
James had an LSU single-season record 154 tackles in 2002, then went on to a 10-year career with the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans. He established Foundation 56, a charitable organization which raises funds to fight breast cancer, the disease which claimed his mother, Etta.
James likened his playing style to that of the fictional Bobby Boucher from “The Waterboy,” who fueled his play with his anger.
“Football allowed me to express myself,” James said. “I became Bobby Boucher.”
Williams helped lead LSU to College World Series titles in 1993 and 1996 and was the starting shortstop for the bronze medal-winning 1996 United States Olympic team under then LSU coach Skip Bertman. He is still the all-time SEC leader in runs scored with 270 and ranks fourth at LSU with 327 hits.
“Not bad,” Williams said, “for a short, stocky kid from Galvez.”
The former St. Amant High standout went on to thank his former teammates as well. Williams played with three LSU hall of famers — Todd Walker, Eddy Furniss and Lloyd Peever — as well as Warren Morris.
“We made lifetime memories,” Williams said. “We are lifelong friends.”
Kevin Jackson returned to LSU this weekend for the first time since the school dropped wrestling in 1986. The three-time LSU All-American (1984-86) went on to be NCAA runner-up in 1987 at Iowa State and later won gold in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the world championships and Pan-American games.
He is the first wrestler in LSU’s hall of fame.
“I lived in Broussard Hall,” Jackson said, referring to LSU’s old athletic dormitory. “I left a record player and a lamp. I need to check if they still have them.”
Duncan, who won the 2001 U.S. Women’s Amateur in addition to being a two-time All-American, said her official recruiting visit was 22 years ago Friday. That was the night LSU beat Florida 28-21 in Tiger Stadium, the football program’s first win over a No. 1 team.
She thanked her former LSU coach Karen Bahnsen, who presented Duncan with her plaque, and recognized her former teammates in attendance.
“We were a family,” said Duncan, now girls basketball and boys and girls golf coach at Byrd High in Shreveport. “We’ve been in each other’s weddings and at funerals, and held each other’s babies. We’re still in each other’s lives, which is amazing.”
Ducote, now softball coach at Parkview Baptist, is just the third LSU softball player to be enshrined.
“I set goals for myself, but this wasn’t even in the picture for me,” said Ducote, a two-time All-American and 2000 SEC player of the year. “I am so honored to get this award.”
Susan Jackson won the 2010 Honda Award and was the 2010 SEC female athlete and gymnast of the year. A four-time All-American, she is the only LSU gymnast to win three NCAA individual titles (all-around, balance beam and vault).
“It is an absolute dream to be inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame,” said Jackson, who was presented with her hall of fame plaque by coach D-D Breaux.
“I am, and will forever be, proud to be part of it all.”
Davis competed at LSU from 2000-02, earning nine All-American honors as a long jumper, triple jumper and sprinter. He won six NCAA individual titles and scored 30 of LSU’s 64 points to lead the Tigers to the 2002 NCAA men’s outdoor title. Davis went on to be a three-time U.S. Olympian, a two-time World Champion, the 2002 national track and field athlete of the year and 2002 SEC male athlete of the year.
There are now 149 former LSU athletes, coaches and administrators in the hall of fame. The seven will be recognized on the field in Tiger Stadium on Saturday during the LSU-Florida game.
2019 LSU Athletic Hall of Fame induction class
• Walter Davis, men’s track and field
• Ashlee Ducote, softball
• Meredith Duncan, women’s golf
• Kevin Jackson, wrestling
• Susan Jackson, gymnastics
• Bradie James, football
• Jason Williams, baseball