April 22, 2010 10:47:00 AM
Tony Eddins has been blessed.
Born and raised in Columbus, Eddins had the good fortune to be loved by his biological parents and his stepfather and stepmother. He used the positive examples set by his parents to have a successful sports career at New Hope High School, where he excelled at football, basketball, and track and field.
Eddins had plenty of options out of high school. Some thought he would be best served by going to a bigger school, like Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, or Alcorn State. But Eddins opted to go to Mississippi College, a private, Christian school, because he thought the atmosphere better suited him.
Several All-Gulf South Conference honors later, Eddins graduated from the school in 1987 and has went on to have a successful family and professional life.
On Saturday, Mississippi College will recognize Eddins as one of its finest student-athletes when they induct him into the school''s Sports Hall of Fame.
Eddins learned of the honor last month and plans to use the recognition to help show young people in the Golden Triangle they can overcome long odds or difficult situations to realize their dreams.
"I am trying to encourage our young people to believe in themselves," Eddins said. "If you believe in yourself you can accomplish anything."
Eddins said his parents didn''t have the best car or the most luxurious houses. He also said he didn''t own a lavish array of clothes. But he said his parents taught him to work hard and to "take what you have and make the best of it." That''s why he said he was able to make the most of what he called a "bad situation" growing up.
Eddins, a graduate of the class of 1987, was the MVP at wide receiver for the football team in 1986 and Gulf South Conference Player of the Week three times. The Cleveland Browns drafted him as a free agent out of college and tried to convert him to a running back. Eddins lasted with the team for about eight months, he said, before he was cut.
From there, he went to work at Omnova Solutions Inc., where he has worked for 22 years. He received a degree in secondary education from Mississippi College. He anticipates completing work on his master''s degree from the University of West Alabama in May.
In addition to his work at Omnova Solutions Inc., he is doing an internship as a guidance counselor at New Hope and West Lowndes high schools. He said he hasn''t used his induction to the Mississippi College Hall of Fame as an anecdote to help motivate the high school students he works with, but he said he hopes the young men and women realize they can accomplish just as much, if not more, than he did.
"I am not one to brag about things," Eddins said. "I like to have my actions speak for themselves. I hope when this comes out young men and young women realize they have to believe in themselves. It wasn''t easy for me. I didn''t have what you would call a ''good life.'' But if I can do this I know they can do it, too."
Eddins said he will dedicate his Hall of Fame trophy to Bill Lemon, a former announcer for New Hope High School football and basketball games, who died earlier this year. He said Lemon was a big influence on his life and that he believed he was a "Hall of Famer." That''s the same message Eddins hopes to pass on to today''s student-athletes.
"This Hall of Fame is a great honor, but if I can''t be a mentor for our young people and if I can''t get them to believe in themselves, then this Hall of Fame honor is just another plaque on the walls catching dust," Eddins said.
Norman Minton, a former football player at Mississippi College and a
longtime high school football coach, golfer Richie Taylor, baseball player Chris Michael, tack and field standout Van H. Savell, Jr., football player Darrell DeWayne Hopkins, basketball player Randall A. Boone, and tennis player Lori Lee Bustin Touliatos also will be
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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