FAYETTEVILLE -- Darrell Brown, a Little Rock attorney who was the first black football player at the University of Arkansas, died Saturday, the UA confirmed.
Brown, 67, died at 2:48 a.m. Saturday at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock, according to Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs. Brown had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Brown, a Horatio native, joined the football team as a freshman walk-on in 1965. He didn't play after his freshman season because of an ankle injury, but Brown's place in Arkansas' football history was recognized in 2011 when he was honored at halftime of the Arkansas-Auburn football game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium as part of the UA's Trailblazers series.
Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long presented Brown with a trophy and a Razorbacks No. 1 jersey with his name on the back.
"We are saddened by the passing of a truly extraordinary Razorback," Long said in a statement Saturday. "Darrell helped redefine our program, enabling countless opportunities for thousands of African-American student-athletes at the University of Arkansas.
"We were privileged to honor him in 2011 for his meaningful contributions to our program.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and all those who were positively impacted by the remarkable life of Darrell Brown."
Brown's daughter, Deedee Brown Campbell, was a two-time All-America heptathlete and SEC champion at Arkansas, where she earned bachelor's and master's degrees and worked as an assistant athletic director in a academic support. Married to former Arkansas football player Marcus Campbell, she is now an associate athletic director at Baylor.
"I just went down to the field house and said, 'I'm Darrell Brown and I want to play football,' " Brown said in a 2011 interview with the UA. "Obviously, I didn't get a standing ovation at that time, but they said OK.
"I don't know what went on behind the scenes, but they said OK and issued me equipment."
Brown said in his 2011 interview that some teammates offered support while others ridiculed him.
Brown played tailback and cornerback for Arkansas' freshman team. He practiced throughout the fall on 1965 and in the spring of 1966, then gave up football because his ankle injury.
Brown earned his undergraduate degree from Arkansas in 1969 and a law degree from the UA in 1972.
"I was a little ole country boy that had a dream," Brown said in his 2011 interview. "I was just playing football and I didn't understand or grasp the significance of what was going on.
"I just wanted to be a part of what everybody had an opportunity to do. That was just my dream. I wanted to be a Razorback, and I wanted to play football."
Information for this article was contributed by Matt Jones of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Sports on 11/01/2015
Print Headline: Brown, 67, UA’s first black football player, dies