Bobby Bryant came from Macon, Ga., to the University of South Carolina more than 57 years ago with a 145-pound body frame so skinny he earned the nickname “Bones.”
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Bobby Bryant came from Macon, Ga., to the University of South Carolina more than 57 years ago with a 145-pound body frame so skinny he earned the nickname “Bones.”Through hard work, an improved diet and a strong faith in God instilled by his mother, he went on to have a Hall of Fame career with both the Gamecocks and NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.Now living in Columbia, Bryant provided his testimony as guest speaker for the sixth annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at Lexington County Baseball Stadium.“It’s great to be a part of a family of God and to know that we have Jesus Christ as our savior, but God has a plan for all of us,” he said.Bryant provided an autobiographical account of his life growing up with 11 siblings. His hard-working father was a carpenter, and his mother was a devout Christian mother who encouraged him to accept Jesus Christ at 13 years old.“My mother was a godly woman and she made sure every Sunday we were in church,” he said. “In Sunday school before church and then at church. Anytime the doors were open we were there, so I thank her for the fact that I came to know Christ at every age.”At 10, he had an athletic revelation that he was “really good in all sports.”“I also realized that I was very humble also,” he said.Recruited by former USC track and field coach Weems Baskin for football, Bryant received an offer. He not only played three seasons as a defensive back, earning All-American honors and setting a school record with a 98-yard punt return against N.C. State, but was also a pitcher on the baseball team.Bryant’s athletic success earned him ACC Athlete of the Year honors in 1967. He was drafted by both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball, but settled on pursuing an NFL career for the Vikings.The decision proved fruitful as Bryant played on four Super Bowl teams and had a team-record 51 interceptions in 12 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He was a two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection and was named among the 50 Greatest Vikings. Before retiring in 1980, Bryant was named to the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.Following Bryant’s playing days, his family settled in Columbia where his son Brady played soccer for Ben Lippen. It’s also where the Bryants struck a friendship with the Shanahans as they began the Columbia Bombers.Sponsored by the Lexington County Blowfish, proceeds from the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast go to a charitable organization around Lexington County. This year, Blowfish co-owner Bill Shanahan and Mayor Steve MacDougall presented Kids Day of Lexington a $600 check to aid in its mission of creating “a better community by educating and caring for families with love, honesty and laughter.”
Jamie Ballentine (aka local mascot Ollie the Otter), whose program Meaningful Play is affiliated with Kids’ Day, accepted the contribution.The Blowfish also announced its continued partnership with the Blood Connection. A blood drive will be held Jan. 5 at the stadium from noon to 5 p.m. All donors will receive a Holiday Heroes beanie, a $20 e-gift card and a $10 O’Hara’s Public House gift card. Visit thebloodconnection.org for more information.
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