MASTER OF MEDICALS — SETX’s Dr. Jesse DeLee picks up another well-earned honor

Published 12:08 am Saturday, April 29, 2023

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WACO — The Texas High School Football Hall of Fame recently selected its class of 2023, and it includes a medical leader with Southeast Texas roots.

Organizers dub the honor as the highest tribute paid to any football player, coach or contributor to high school football in Texas.

The Dave Campbell Contributor to the Game Award is going to Dr. Jesse DeLee for his contributions to Texas high school football through the field of sports medicine.

The banquet is May 6 at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco.

The event is live streamed on You have to have an account on TexanLive to view it, but it’s free.

DeLee, a Port Arthur native who practices medicine in San Antonio, is a previous Thomas A Brady Award honoree by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine. He is in the Sports Medicine Hall of Fame.

Dr. Jesse DeLee, center, is seen with two of his 1963-64 Thomas Jefferson High School science teachers: Jack Sell and Bill Tolar. (Bart Bragg/Special to The Leader)

DeLee served as a team physician for multiple San Antonio-area high schools, and he estimates he has provided medical coverage for more than 1,000 high school football games over the past five decades.

He played football for Thomas Jefferson High School and credits Yellow Jackets head football coach Clarence “Buckshot” Underwood for encouraging him to go to college and ultimately pursue a medical degree.

DeLee graduated in 1970 from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He completed an orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1975. It was during this residency that he became interested in sports medicine.

He then earned a fellowship in joint reconstructive surgery in Wrightington, England, with Sir John Charnley, who pioneered the procedures for total hip and knee replacements.

DeLee joined the faculty of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery in San Antonio in 1978 and served as a full-time faculty member until 1983. He maintains a clinical professorship in the department as well as privately practices sports medicine at OrthoSA in San Antonio.

In 1994, DeLee and Dr. David Drez co-edited Orthopedic Sports Medicine, the leading textbook on the subject.

He has furthered education in sports medicine through his chairmanship of the annual Symposium on Sports Medicine, jointly sponsored by the Department of Orthopedics and the Department of Athletics at the University of Texas at Austin.

DeLee is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Orthopedic Association, The Knee Society and the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society. He is a founding member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America; and in 1982, he was elected to the Herodicus Society, which honors leaders in orthopedic sports medicine.

In 2000, Dr. DeLee was asked to chair the newly formed medical advisory committee for the University Interscholastic League. This committee provides oversight for medical issues regarding all students participating in UIL-sponsored activities.

This committee is the first of its kind in the U.S. and has been instrumental in such activities as the concussion protocol, cardiac screening and prevention of heat-related injuries. He continues in this role currently.

DeLee was inducted into The Museum of the Gulf Coast hall of fame in November 2022.

“He and another guy wrote the standard for sports medicine,” Museum Director Tom Neal previously said. “That book is in its fifth edition now. He has toured throughout the world talking about this stuff.”

DeLee has three daughters and 13 grandchildren.