ETX native, former Longhorns' great dies at 65

ETX native, former Longhorns' great dies at 65
The University of Texas
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POSTED: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 10:59am

UPDATED: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 9:21pm

Former Longview Lobo and University of Texas star quarterback, James Street has died.

According to ESPN Central Texas, the undersized, yet explosive, former Longhorns' player passed away Monday morning.


Photo from AT&T Cotton Bowl.

Street, who arrived at Texas from Longview as a seventh string quarterback, led the Longhorns to back-to-back Cotton Bowl Classics, defeating Tennessee 36-13 in 1969, and a year later knocked off Notre Dame 21-17 to help Texas claim the national championship in college football’s 100th anniversary season. Street's icing on the cake was a perfect college career record of 20-0. 

Street served as the leader for D.K. Royal's infamous "Wishbone" offense. He led the Longhorns to a victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks in a matchup now known  as the "Game of the Century."

Billy Roy, of Longview, remembers that game, very well.

"He was definitely a guy that made the most out of his talent," said Roy. "The gifts and talent he had was undeniable. He had an ultimate "will to win" attitude that's hard to find these days in college athletes. He was a true team player, it wasn't about him. It was about what he could do for the Lobos and Longhorns."

The University of Texas released a statement, Monday, on the passing of this legendary student-athlete:

"A gentleman both on and off the field, Street's loss has reverberated throughout The University of Texas community."


Photo from Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

David Smoak of ESPN Central Texas and owner of Smoaky.com tells KETK, Street is a member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco, having been inducted in 2000.

Nancy Mills, Vice President of Executive Services for the AT&T Cotton Bowl, also tells KETK, Street was inducted into the AT&T Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame in 1999. She also stated he is a great part of the Cotton Bowl's history and he will be greatly missed by all.



Photo from AT&T Cotton Bowl.

In addition to football, Street also won two Southwest Conference titles and threw two no-hitters as a member of the Texas baseball team. He held a 29-8 record on the Longhorn diamond.



Photo from The University of Texas.

Ronnie Martin, owner of Network Communications Incorporated in Longview and is five years younger than Street, says he remembers when Street played baseball for the Lobos like it was yesterday.

"Whenever Street would be pitching for the Lobos or in summer league, people would line up along the fence just to see him pitch," said Martin. "They would come to the games just to see him."

Street also still holds the summer league home run record in Longview.


Photo from AT&T Cotton Bowl.

Craig Smoak, of ESPN Central Texas and Smoaky.com, spoke with someone who knew Street, and his words summed up the legend lost and the legacy left by the East Texas native.

"Longview has had their share of great athletes," said a friend of Street. "However, none captivated the city with excellence and leadership like Street."


Photo from AT&T Cotton Bowl.

One of Street's five sons, Huston, is a finesse relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres. Huston was a closer on the 2002 College World Series team at Texas, setting a CWS record for most saves earning him the series' MVP honors. He was named to the NCAA College World Series Legends team in 2010.


Photo from Facebook of Steve Gaddis.

KETK spoke with Steve Gaddis, former Spring Hill Athletic Director and head football coach, whose father, Votto Gaddis, coached Street while at Longview.

"My dad coached James for six years in football and was also his head basketball coach while at Longview," Gaddis said. "He stayed in contact with James and visited with him about six weeks ago. Street was like a son to him and a brother to me. He would always get us tickets to come see him play against Oklahoma. I also visited with his son, Huston, two weeks ago when the Padres played the Braves in Atlanta and he signed a ball for my grandson. I also have a painting of Street and Royal (pictured above) hanging in my office, so I'm always reminded of not just what an amazing athlete he was, but a person, as well."

Richard Jones, preacher at Calvary Baptist Church in Longview, played baseball with Street's older brother and had the highest of praises for the hometown star.

"James was an outstanding athlete," said Jones. "He wasn't a big guy, by any means, but he was very athletic, talented and worked hard to get where he did. He also had the best hair of anyone I have ever known! His hair was immaculate, sort of like John Travolta in Grease."

Street's former backfield coach and head basketball coach at Longview, Votto Gaddis, spoke exclusively with Reagan Roy of KETK on how he felt about the legend he considered a son:

"When Street was a senior, he heard his junior English teacher, Mrs. Presson, was having trouble with a few students in her class. Well, James paid that class a visit one day and told them what a great lady she was and if he heard of anyone mistreating her or misbehaving in her class again, they would have to answer to him. James was like a son to me. I spoke to him a few weeks ago on the phone for about an hour and the last words he said to me were, 'Coach, I love you.' This has been really hard on me. Not only was he a great athlete, but a great person with the best character. I will miss him every day."

Longhorns' head coach, Mack Brown, tweeted the following after hearing the confirmation of Street's death:


Photo from Mack Brown Twitter.

Brown also announced the Longhorns will wear "JS" decals on their helmets in the Iowa State game this week and will also show a two-minute tribute video to the team, Tuesday, so they will understand what Street meant to the Texas program.


Photo from Mack Brown Twitter.

After Street's football career he started a structured settlement group, The James Street Settlement Group, in Austin.


Photo from James Street Settlement Group.

He is survived by his wife and five sons.


Photo from AT&T Cotton Bowl.

Tune in to KETK News at 5:00 and 6:00 for more details and interviews with those who knew Street and the impact he had, not only on East Texas, but the world of college football.


Photo from Facebook of Jonathan Bonds.

To hear an interview ESPN Central Texas', David Smoak did with Street on the day legendary Longhorns' football coach, D.K. Royal passed away, head over to the "PODCASTS" section on ESPN Central Texas.


 


 

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