Johnny “Lam” Jones, one of the most celebrated athletes in University of Texas history as both a football and a track star, died Friday morning after a decades-long fight with myeloma cancer. He was 60.
He was known more for his track exploits as an Olympic gold medalist on the U.S. 400-meter relay team in 1976 at age 18 and a world-class sprinter who once won four events at a Southwest Conference meet. But he also played tailback and wide receiver for the Longhorn football team and was later selected by the New York Jets as the No. 2 player taken in the first round although he only had marginal success as a pro.
Jones spent his last days at the Round Rock Scott & White Hospital. He will be buried in the Texas State Cemetery, a close friend said, after the late Darrell Royal became a strong advocate for him being laid to rest there.
A star athlete at Lampasas, Jones once electrified Royal-Memorial Stadium with his historic run as the anchor leg of his high school track’s mile relay team. After he took the baton in last place, he made up a distance of more than 75 yards to easily clip the tape as the winner, setting off a wild celebration among grade-school youngsters who poured onto the track from the stands.
He was a very quiet, introverted, painfully shy person during his days at Texas and dealt with alcohol and drug addiction before embracing sobriety.
Funeral arrangements are pending. The family is accepting donations to pay for the expenses at Johnny “Lam” Jones Memorial Fund, 3112 Windsor Road, P.O Box 322, Austin, Tx. 78703. The trustees of the fund are his former teammates Alfred Jackson, Lawrence Sampleton, Donnie Little and Steve Massey.
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