Basketball trailblazer Perry Wallace dies at 69 - WSMV News 4

Basketball trailblazer Perry Wallace dies at 69

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Perry Wallace (Source: Vanderbilt University) Perry Wallace (Source: Vanderbilt University)

Perry Wallace, the first African-American varsity basketball player in the SEC, has died at age 69.

"Perry Wallace stood for all that’s good in each of us,” said Vanderbilt University Athletics Director David Williams. “I say to everyone associated with Vanderbilt, Perry gave us so much more than we ever gave him.

Wallace made history in 1967 by becoming the SEC’s first African-American basketball player to compete in a varsity game while he attended Vanderbilt.

He went on to earn First Team All-SEC honors during his senior season and is still one of Vanderbilt’s best all-time rebounders, ranking second in program history.

Wallace was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

His No. 25 jersey was retired by Vanderbilt in 2004, and he was inducted into Vanderbilt’s inaugural athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.

"Vanderbilt, the sports world, and the entire country lost a civil rights icon today," said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos. “We are more fortunate for having known him and for his legacy at Vanderbilt.

Author Andrew Maraniss, who wrote the biography of Wallace, “Strong Inside,” took to Twitter to express his condolences.

“The world lost one of its true gentlemen today. My friend and mentor has passed away,” Maraniss wrote.

A documentary on Wallace’s journey and the integration of SEC basketball called “Triumph: The Untold Story of Perry Wallace,” is set to premiere Monday night at Vanderbilt University.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been released.

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