orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Sports Headlines

July 29, 2009

Orange's 'Big Cat" Ladd in Grambling Hall of Greats

Orange legend Ernie Ladd “Big Cat” continues to receive prestigious honors.

Ladd, who passed away in March of 2007, was among the inaugural class of the Grambling University Sports Hall of Fame.

Spearheaded by James “Shack” Harris (former NFL Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player) and Doug Williams (former Super Bowl MVP) the ceremony was held at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, Louisiana.

At 6-9 and 315 pounds, Ladd arrived to Grambling in the late 1950s and immediately made an impact. A first-team all-league defensive lineman in his final season at Grambling in 1960, he helped Grambling to its first-ever SWAC championship.

He may have been known as a ferocious All-Pro defensive lineman as well as “The Big Cat” in the professional wrestling ranks, but Ernie Ladd was also known as the gentle giant from Orange, Texas.

Ladd, who was born and raised in Orange, passed away in 2007 after a long bout with cancer.

The “Big Cat,” has claim to fame in being enshrined in both the American Football League Hall of Fame and the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Ladd was a fierce product of the former Wallace High School in Orange and was coached by the late legendary coach Willie Ray Smith. He played on the 1954 state championship team as a sophomore and was also an All-State basketball player in helping lead the Dragons to a state crown as well in that sport.

Ladd went on to play for another legend, Eddie Robinson, at Grambling State University. With Ladd’s efforts, Robinson was able to land his first Southwest Athletic Conference championship.

The American Football League’s San Diego Chargers selected Ladd with their 15th pick in the 1961 draft. At 6-9, 315 pounds, Ladd was arguably the biggest and strongest man in pro football during his era. He had a 52-inch chest, 39-inch waist, 20-inch biceps, 19-inch neck, 20-inch calf, and size 18D shoes.

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