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Chucky Mullins Courage Award

 

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Roy Lee "Chucky" Mullins was born on July 8, 1969, in Russellville, Ala. After his mother's death when he was in the seventh grade, and at his request, Chucky was placed under the guardianship of Carver and Karen Phillips.

Chucky graduated from Russellville High School in 1988. He earned All-Conference, All-Area and All-State honors in football as a junior and senior. He was team captain and most valuable player on his high school team. He also earned three letters in football, basketball and baseball.

Because of his athletic and leadership abilities, Chucky was awarded a four-year scholarship to Ole Miss, and he arrived on campus in the summer of 1988. He was redshirted in 1988 but later saw action as a "nickel" defensive back for the Rebels and was rapidly emerging as a defensive force in the Southeastern Conference.

Tragically, his injury on Oct. 28, 1989, in the Homecoming game against Vanderbilt ended his football career and left him paralyzed. He was treated at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis until February 1990, when he was transferred to Spain Rehabilitation Center in Birmingham.

Chucky's battle with his physical disability and his undefeatable spirit changed the University of Mississippi. For months after the tragic accident, Chucky endured the grueling challenges of rehabilitation. During the difficult time, Chucky's gritty determination and positive spirit touched the lives of literally hundreds of people. More than a million dollars was raised for the Chucky Mullins Trust Fund. He was visited in the hospital and later at home by such stars as Walter Payton, Janet Jackson and President George Bush. Chucky's accident and his unbroken spirit transcended football. The people of Mississippi, the South and the entire United States rallied around this remarkable young man.

When Chucky returned to Oxford in August 1990 to begin living in the specially-equipped house built by the Trust Fund donations, he announced a determination to return to Ole Miss and pursue a degree. Against all odds, in January 1991, he did return to the classroom. However, on May 1, 1991, as he prepared for class, he suddenly stopped breathing. Rushed to the hospital, he never regained consciousness and died five days later from complications resulting from a blood clot.

While Chucky did not have a long life, it was a particularly special one. His teammates and coaches said Chucky was a teacher. He taught others how to live their lives to the fullest and how to maintain their focus on the truly important aspects of a precious life. In the state of Mississippi, Chucky Mullins will be forever young and never forgotten.

In the spring of 1990, the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity at Ole Miss initiated the Chucky Mullins Courage Award to be given each spring to a defensive player, who is chosen by the Rebel coaching staff in conjunction with the Chucky Mullins Courage Award Banquet Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the athletics department, university staff, Oxford community and Phi Beta Sigma and Phi Kappa Psi fraternities. Recipients are presented the award at the Chucky Mullins Courage Award banquet, with the proceeds from the banquet going to a special fund created to help Ole Miss students that are involved in serious accidents.

Each award recipient receives a framed Mullins jersey and has the honor of wearing Mullins' No. 38 on the field the following season. In 2006, the number was officially retired, joining Archie Manning's No. 18 as the only retired numbers in the Rebels' storied football history. A 38 patch, rather than the jersey number, was worn from 2006 until 2010. The decision was made in March 2011 for the jersey to remain retired and be worn only by the Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner each year.

On Sept. 26, 2014, Coliseum Drive on the Ole Miss campus was renamed Chucky Mullins Drive, honoring his life and influence in the most visible and enduring way.

Past recipients of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award include Chris Mitchell (1990), Jeff Carter (1991), Trea Southerland (1992), Johnny Dixon (1993), Alundis Brice (1994), Michael Lowery (1995), Derek Jones (1996), Nate Wayne (1997), Gary Thigpen (1998), Ronnie Heard (1999), Anthony Magee (2000), Kevin Thomas (2001), Lanier Goethie (2002), Jamil Northcutt (2003), Eric Oliver (2004), Kelvin Robinson (2005), Patrick Willis (2006), Jeremy Garrett (2007), Jamarca Sanford (2008), Marcus Tillman (2009), Kentrell Lockett (2010), D.T. Shackelford (2011), Jason Jones (2012), Mike Marry (2013), D.T. Shackelford (2014), Mike Hilton (2015) and John Youngblood (2016).

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