Year of Elandon: Roberts rewarded with museum hall induction

Published 4:25 pm Monday, June 26, 2017

Elandon Roberts found a way to get into the Museum of the Gulf Coast Sports Hall of Fame, like he first planned when he was a senior at Port Arthur Memorial.

“This has been his dream,” his mother Stephanie Roberts said. “This has been his passion. I’m just elated that he’s here. We’re here. And the best is yet to come.”

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Even after winning a Super Bowl.

Roberts’ induction Monday afternoon drew a large crowd into the museum’s sports wing. The New England Patriots linebacker, who won the Super Bowl in February as a rookie, unveiled his NFL and University of Houston jerseys to go into the hall of fame before a crowd of family, high school teachers and Memorial coach Kenny Harrison, among others.

“It was just a great experience seeing everybody come out like they did,” Roberts said. “Port Arthur, born and raised, [it’s] home to me. I always make sure I come home and make sure my face is seen because the newer generation needs to be seeing a face that’s able to come back and talk to them and show them that you’re going to go through things in life, but as long as you take it one day at a time — whatever you want to do and whatever you want to be — take it one day at a time. Hopefully, whatever your dream is, it will come.”

To Mary Lathan, Roberts’ ninth-grade English teacher at Memorial, seeing one of her pupils feted by the community means “everything”.

“Seeing him as an innocent ninth-grader who’s struggling in my class — I’d call his mama sometimes — but then he grows and matures, passes the state test and does his very best … but then he moves from ninth grade to a pro position, he’s very deserving and his parents are just awesome individuals,” Lathan said. “We’ve known them for a long time.”

Harrison remembers the day Roberts asked him about trying to draw attention from Division I schools while he was still a Memorial Titan.

“He came to my office in the spring of 2011 and asked what could he do to be looked at,” Harrison said. “At the time, we had a player about 6-6 and 270 pounds that was being recruited by everybody. I said, ‘I’ll tell you what. There are going to be a lot of recruits out there today. When we start practice, you call him out and if you can whoop him in front of college scouts, that’ll make you look real good.’

“I tell you this: He went three times and won all three times. That’s just the type of kid he is.”

Roberts had an outstanding freshman season at Morgan State, a Football Championship Subdivision university in Baltimore, before transferring to the University of Houston. He became a team captain and led the Cougars to the 2015 American Athletic Conference championship and a Peach Bowl win over Florida State.

Roberts talked about visiting the museum when he was a senior being inducted into The Port Arthur News’ Super Team in 2011. That year, he had just led the Titans to a runner-up finish in 5A Division II, to this day the program’s best finish.

Discovering many local athletes including Eric Alexander — who, like Roberts does, wore No. 52 for the Patriots and won a Super Bowl with them (while wearing No. 49) in the 2004 season — Roberts said to himself: “I gotta find a way to get in here.”

Now, he’s the first Titan since Harrison became head coach in 2009 to make it to 700 Procter St.

“It couldn’t happen to a better kid,” Harrison said. “Elandon Roberts is a first-class kid. Great family, high-character kid.”

Roberts announced during his speech Monday that, through his Elandon Roberts Foundation, he is hosting a heart walk at 8 a.m. July 15 at Memorial Stadium to raise awareness of heart disease, which has taken the lives of his grandmother and aunt.

“Just with my foundation being started and just knowing I had many family members pass from it and it’s the leading cause of death in America, it was just known right then and there I wanted to do this through my foundation,” he said.

A 7-on-7 celebrity football tournament including rappers Bun B and Paul Wall and retired NBA star Stephen Jackson, as well as Patriots teammates Cyrus Jones and Vincent Valentine, Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans and recent Falcons defensive lineman Jonathan Babineaux acting a celebrity coaches, will follow at 10 a.m.

Roberts and the Patriots came from 28-3 down to beat the Falcons 34-28 in overtime in the Super Bowl.

The July 15 events are just another way for Roberts to make an impact on Port Arthur.

“If you look on this museum, it shows what Port Arthur stands for,” he said. “All around town, at the barber shop and the grocery store, people ask what do we need to do to change the area. It’s a positive thing for everyone to talk about it.

“It’s not going to change overnight. Port Arthur is all about adversity. Instead of planning what to do tomorrow based on what happened yesterday, it’s about today and what you’re blessed to do. You never know when your time is up.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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