‘Mission accomplished’: Trailblazer Clarence Scott makes hometown proud as he amasses honors over school, college, NFL career
Jennifer Ffrench-Parker | 2/5/2016, 6 a.m.
Clarence Scott is used to blazing trails.
The Decatur native was on the Trinity High School football team that walked away with the 1965 State Championship, and he went on to become an All-American at Kansas State University before spending 13 years with the Cleveland Browns.
What’s more difficult these day is getting used to all these Hall of Fame inductions.
Since 1999, Scott has been inducted fives times – into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, the Kansas State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003, the Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame in 2012, Decatur High School Wall of Honor in 2013, and the Kansas State University Ring of Honor in 2015.
On Feb. 12, he will be ushered into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame.
Scott, who lives in Stone Mountain, says that it’s the greatest feeling in the world to be recognized for his work.
“It feels like mission accomplished,” he said on Feb. 3. “My mission was to do something for my community to make it proud of me. I give all honor and glory to my community that gave me the atmosphere to achieve my goals, that taught me how to live life.”
Scott, 67, recalled growing up in the tightknit Beacon Hill community, now called Oakhurst, in the city of Decatur and attending the all-black Trinity High. The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” was in full evidence.
Scott said some of the teachers lived in the same community, attended the same churches, shopped at the same stores.
“They lived among us and knew our parents. The school was an extension of the community. We took care of each other. It was a loving, caring, comforting place to live.”
Even though they were prevented from attending the better-funded white schools, Scott said they were supported by their parents and the rest of the community.
Over a 12-year period, Trinity High won three state championships or was a runner-up.
Beacon Hill had no organized Little League sports, but Scott said neighbor teams were created to play against each other.
“Youngsters who live in wooden houses would play against those in public housing,” he said. “We went from one community to the other.”
The young athletes were talented and tough enough to hone each other’s skills.
Scott, who was captain of Trinity’s football and basketball team, was in the last class that graduated from Trinity High in 1967. The school closed that year.
He said he could have integrated Decatur High with his buddy and fellow basketball player Richard Wilson in 1965, but even though his mother, Dorothy Scott, fought alongside community activist Elizabeth Wilson to desegregate City Schools of Decatur and the Decatur Library, his parents decided to keep him at Trinity.
“I was kinda glad too,” Scott said. “I didn’t want to leave my friends and teachers.”
Dorothy Scott died in November 2015 at age 88.
With no opportunity to break the color barrier at Southern colleges, Scott went to play football for the Kansas State Wildcats and became an All-American in 1970.
In 1971, the Browns drafted him. Over his NFL career (1971-1983), Scott appeared in 186 games – 178 straight – and recorded 39 career interceptions, the third most in club history. He helped the Browns win two division titles.
On his journey through life, Scott took the values of his community with him.
“Whatever I do, I do it well so that my community can take pride in what I do. I am thankful and grateful that I grew up where I did.”