Legendary poker player Doyle Brunson will be feted yet again on Friday night, but not for any of his performances over his 50-plus year career in the game of poker.

Brunson, a 1954 graduate of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree, will be taking part in ceremonies during Homecoming Weekend at his alma mater that will include induction into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The dinner will take place at 6:30pm local time on the campus of Hardin-Simmons and Brunson will be inducted along with former athletes Mickey Davis Brewer (basketball), Collin McCormick (football), and Morris South (football).

For those who don’t know a great deal about Brunson’s life before poker, he was a tremendous athlete in his younger years and made his impact known upon his arrival at the university in both basketball and track. Brunson was an immediate success in track and field, running the mile and finishing in third place in his first-ever shot at the 1951 Border Conference meet. While he ran track, Brunson also was a prized member of the school’s freshman basketball team.

As a sophomore, Brunson scored 151 points for the basketball team, placed second in the mile, and ran on the fourth place mile relay team at the Border Conference track meet. The following year, Brunson again placed second in the mile and excelled in basketball, helping Hardin-Simmons to win the Conference championship and enter the NCAA Division I basketball playoffs. Brunson scored 412 points over the entirety of his college basketball career and, at the time, was the only HSU athlete in any sport to be named the MVP of the Border Conference.

After such a stellar collegiate career, Brunson was deemed good enough that professional basketball’s top team began to look at him. The National Basketball Association (NBA) champion Minneapolis Lakers (now in Los Angeles), with George Mikan at center and Basketball Hall of Fame member Slater Martin at guard, were considering drafting Brunson. A freak accident, however, prevented him from achieving that goal.

While working in a warehouse, Brunson was unloading a shipment of sheetrock when it started to fall to the floor. Doyle tried to use his leg to stop the shift of the sheetrock, which weighed approximately one ton, and the resulting collapse of the load on his leg seriously injured his knee and broke his leg in two places, injuries which Brunson admits still affect him today. After recovering for two years, Brunson was healthy, but his dream of professional basketball was over. Soon after, Brunson began his trek into the world of poker.

The admittance into the Hardin-Simmons University Athletic Hall of Fame is entirely for Brunson’s performance on the collegiate level and do not reflect his influence on the poker world. As such, Brunson will accept the honor with his usual humble nature. In a recent blog post found on DoylesRoom.com, Brunson looked ahead to his induction ceremony: “After being turned down for 40 years I have mixed feelings, but all my old teammates will be there, so I’m going down and will be on my best behavior.”

All of us here at Poker News Daily would like to congratulate Brunson and the Brunson family on a long overdue honor.

One Comment

  1. Raymond Hibler says:

    What a friend for 70 years best man in wedding 1953 thanks Doyle

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