Lenzie “Rick” Grice was inducted into the 2016 Shaw University Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday. A humble man, Grice has given much of his time to the youth in Sampson County, especially the athletes.
He attended Sampson High School from 1962-65 where he played football under Coach Paul Williams and Willie Jacobs. While he attended Sampson High, he was a captain of the team. His coaches gave the team a curfew. One night Coach Williams showed up at his house but Grice wasn’t home. As the coach walked out of the front door Grice walked in the back door. The next morning when Grice got to school, he was called to the coaches office. Coach Williams told him to get his gear and turn it in, he was kicking him off the team.
“I begged and pleaded with him to give me one more chance,” Grice said.
According to the inductee, Williams told him he would have to apologize to his team mates and Coach Jacobs. It would be up to him as to whether he would remain on the team.
Grice apologized and the team voted to let him remain as a player. He would however have extra duties to get back on the team.
“I would have to bring out equipment everyday and take it in everyday. After about three days I was allowed to practice,” Grice said.
Williams always stressed to Grice that life doesn’t care about what happened the day before or last year.
“It’s what you’ve done lately,” Grice added. “This made a huge impact on my life and to this day I’m always early, never late.”
According to Grice, school’s didn’t have weight rooms, so the teams would throw bricks to building up their arm strength.
“I’d hang up a tire and throw bricks through it,” Grice said. “I did get stronger and was able to throw the football 70 yards.”
Grice was recruited by North Carolina A & T, North Carolina Central, and Johnson C. Smith. One of his teachers, Geneva Parker, was a graduate of Shaw and she made arrangements to take Grice for a visit. That is where he met friends and future teammates. Later, Grice was recruited as a quarterback for the Bears, but played multiple positions.
Lee Royster, the coach at Shaw, was an All-American player at Florida A&M who made Grice and the other players mentally tough by giving them game situations and asking what plays should be ran.
While attending Shaw, Grice majored in Social Studies. While there he met the love of his life, Eloise, who he is still married to now.
“It’s perhaps the best part of my days at Shaw,” Grice admitted. The two have a son, Jeff, who works for Comcast Sports with the Boston Celtics.
After graduation, the couple moved to Maryland and Grice started his first job at Hart, Shaffer, and Mark, a distribution manufacturer. Five years later he relocated to Chicago and began a new career with Macy’s in retail and wholesale. After 30 years, he and his wife retired and moved back to Clinton.
“I’m grateful to everyone who played a part in nominating me for this prestigious award,” Grice said. “The community, family, and coaches … I’m thankful and it is a privilege to be honored this way.”
Melony Henderson can be reached at [email protected]