OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-five years ago, Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins was a rising University of Mississippi football star whose time on the team ended abruptly following a paralyzing injury on the field. Mullins, who wore jersey No. 38, was warmly remembered Friday (Sept. 26) as Coliseum Drive was renamed in his memory.
Chucky Mullins Drive, which connects Highway 6 to campus, officially opened on a warm, partly sunny afternoon. UM administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni joined family members and friends of the famed and fallen Rebel in the Robert C. Khayat School of Law courtyard for the ceremony.
Mullins, who was paralyzed on the football field in 1989 and died in 1991, was inducted posthumously into the M-Club Hall of Fame during the night before Saturday’s game against the University of Memphis. Several persons in the audience were emotionally moved to tears as podium participants paid tribute to Mullins.
“We are extremely blessed to be influenced by the life and values of Chucky Mullins each and every day,” said Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork. “The impact he made during his time at Ole Miss is without measure. Chucky continues to serve as a spiritual hero and a rallying point for the passion, spirit and energy that define the university.”
The Ole Miss football team will also honor Mullins by wearing commemorative helmets with Mullins’ No. 38 on them. All former Chucky Mullins Courage Award winners, along with the newest members of the M-Club Hall of Fame, will be recognized on field on Saturday.
“Learning I was a recipient of the Chucky Mullins Scholarship was one of the happiest days of my life,” said Acacia Santos, a sophomore biochemistry and mechanical engineering major from Southaven. “By following his example and doing my best, I hope to show Chucky my gratitude.”
These ceremonies culminate a week of racial reconciliation activities on the Ole Miss campus. For the second consecutive year, the Ole Miss athletics department and William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation partnered to sponsor a week of events dedicated to promoting racial equity and encouraging dialogue on the topic.
“Chucky means so much to our university,” said former head football coach Billy Brewer. “With every new recognition of his life, his story grows and grows. He absolutely loved Ole Miss and to this day Ole Miss loves him.”
Each year, the Rebel football team awards the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, which is presented to a defensive captain who shows as much heart and passion as Mullins did both on and off the field. That player wears No. 38 in Mullins’ memory.
“I am truly humbled to be wearing his number,” said senior Deterrian “DT” Shackelford, who has held the honor the last two years and is the first player to earn the distinction twice. “As I faced my own injuries and surgeries, I needed everything he stood for. I truly believe I’ve made it this far because of him. He’s been a blessing.”
Carver and Karen Phillips (who were Mullins’ guardians) were also in attendance.
“After he was paralyzed, many people in the community thought my wife and I were crazy for taking Chucky and his brother into our home,” Phillips said. “But it was a godsend that Chucky came into our lives. May all that has been done to honor him so far continue for many more years to come.”