A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Lamar Lundy: 1935-2007
By Mike Bennett
Updated: February 25, 2007
RICHMOND, Ind. — The sports world remembers Lamar Lundy as a fearsome defensive lineman for the Los Angeles Rams.
But those who knew him remember him more as a gentle giant, an athlete of formidable strength who was blessed with humility and a great sense of humor.
They remember a man of character and faith who battled each of his life-threatening illnesses with an unbending focus.
They remember a man who gracefully broke down barriers: Lundy was the first black player to receive a football scholarship to Purdue.
Lundy, 71, died early Saturday morning at an area hospital. He had battled diabetes, Graves disease and myasthenia gravis earlier in his life, then cancer and heart failure in the last decade.
“He was a tremendous performer and a better person,” said former Rams teammate Merlin Olsen. “He’s been such a great fighter.”
Lundy played his entire NFL career with the Rams (1957-69). The Fearsome Foursome of Lundy, Olsen, Rosey Grier and Deacon Jones first played together in 1963.
In 1968, the defense featuring the four set an NFL record for the fewest yards allowed during a 14-game season. Lundy received the least notoriety, something that’s unfortunate, Olsen said.
“He really was the stabilizing force, Mr. Consistency,” Olsen said. “He was an incredibly important part of that equation.”
“He’s my biggest hero,” said son Marty Lundy of Richmond. Lamar Lundy leaves three other adult children.
Lundy tackled his ailments as aggressively as he had opposing quarterbacks. “The idea of giving up was repugnant to him,” Olsen said Saturday from his home in Utah.
Olsen visited Lundy in December and the two talked on the phone recently.
“He’s been such a great fighter. But I did have a sense that he had kind of accepted the fact it was maybe time to go.” Olsen said.
Lundy leaves a vibrant legacy in the world of sports and in Richmond, the hometown he returned to in 1987 after living most of his adult life near Los Angeles.
The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Lundy was considered one of the best all-around athletes ever in Indiana and a prototype for today’s fast and strong defensive ends.
He helped lead Richmond High School to unbeaten football seasons in 1952 and 1953 and to the State Finals in basketball in 1953. Lundy earned all-state honors in football and basketball during his high school career and was a member of the Indianapolis Star Indiana All-Star team.
He was such a good athlete that he also started on the Purdue basketball team and was selected the Boilermakers’ team MVP in both football and basketball as a senior.
He was inducted into the Indiana basketball and football halls of fame.