The Life & Legacy of FVSU Alum Rayfield Wright

by Lexus Jenkins

Posted on Apr 11, 2022

FVSU extends condolences to the Wright Family

Fort Valley, Ga - Fort Valley State University is saddened to announce the passing of FVSU alumni and Hall of Fame Offensive Lineman for the Dallas Cowboys Rayfield Wright on Thursday, April 7. He was 76.

"The Wildcat Family mourns the loss of our beloved alumni whose passion, determination, and leadership both on and off the gridiron inspired us all," said President Paul Jones. "Mr. Wright will be greatly missed."

Wright was a standout athlete at FVSU in basketball and football before graduating in 1967. He was such a prolific athlete that the NBA's Cincinnati Royals tried to draft him during his junior year in college. However, Wright declined the offer to complete his education and was subsequently drafted by the Dallas Cowboys the following year. He would later be named one of ESPN's top 10 Cowboys of all time.

Wright's legend as an outstanding player on the gridiron would lead to the NFL legend's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. During his 13-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, the FVSU alumnus, known as the "Big Cat," served as captain and was a defensive powerhouse selected to play in the Pro Bowl for six seasons from 1971-76. His five Super Bowls, the second-most in history, resulted in two championships. He was also recognized as part of the 1970s "All-Decade Team," a fantasy team of the decade's best players.

Following the conclusion of his career, Wright prioritized giving back by raising money for college scholarships through the Rayfield Wright Foundation, helping to start a home for at-risk boys in East Texas, and supporting charities like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

In Fort Valley, Georgia, Wright's story of determination and refusal to give up resulted in him being honored by having one of the main thoroughfares near FVSU's campus named the Rayfield Wright Drive.

In his 2006 Hall of Fame Enshrinement speech, Wright thanked through who'd inspired his amazing journey and shared words of encouragement for young athletes.

"To every young athlete within the sound of my voice, it takes courage to dream your dream. Don't let them sit in the locker room," Wright said. "Take a leap of faith. Listen to your parents and respect your elders. Learn from your successes and your losses. Defeat is possible, and as a challenge to do better next time. Be satisfied you gave the game everything that you had, and remember this: Don't be afraid to travel the road less traveled because Larry Rayfield Wright did, and you can, too."

President Jones ordered the university's flags to be lowered to half-staff on Friday to honor Wright's memory.

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