News-Sun photo by CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY Lake Placid High School dedicated its gymnasium to 1978 alumni and basketball legend Bill Ross Friday night.
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published: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Honored by LPHS Class of 1978
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
LAKE PLACID -- Malcolm "Bill" Ross, a legend in Lake Placid High School's basketball history, was honored Friday night when the never-named gynansium was dedicated in his memory -- appropriately during the half-time break during the Fort Meade/Green Dragon game. Ross's wife, Joanie Ross, and his son Dylan were at the dedication
Number 54 was an amazing athlete, fun to watch and a natural leader.
He was killed in a car crash in June 2012, wearing his seat belt and sitting at a stop light on his way to work. A car hit his from behind, causing a five-car accident. He was the only fatality.
Ross, who graduated from Lake Placid High School in 1978, went on to become a stand-out player for Clemson University. In 1980 he was a part of the team that played in the Elite Eight NCAA Tournament. He was so good he could have played professional ball.
Instead, he chose to put his electrical engineering degree to use working for the power industry, most recently Duke Energy, a right-of-way manager for Progress Energy. After living in other cities for a time, Ross returned home where he worked, raised a family and took part in the community and his church.
Remembered as a good and Godly man, and spoken of with respect and affection, it is Ross's athletic legacy that still thrills those who saw him play.
No one dared challenge him in the free throw lane, his coach Steve Bullock told the audience filling the bleachers; a blocked shot could end up in the fifth row.
"He was pinpoint accurate on a dead run," Bullock said. "He used two hands and shot from his hip. He had a thunderous slam dunk. He was a McDonald's All American.
"It was always packed, absolutely packed, when he played."
Former Avon Park Coach Ronnie Jackson was at the dedication ceremony. He never had a chance to meet Ross but said, "I was teaching in the '70s when Bill played ball here and in Avon Park, so I did have the opportunity to see him play. I've heard he was a tremendous person as well."
It was because Ross was the kind of man people go out of their way to celebrate, Bullock said, not just his awesome talent, that lead to dedicating the gym to him. He added that the recognition "is quite an honor for Bill. Lake Placid has a rich basketball history." Stat books are filled with the records of excellent players and coaches, for example, the first Green Dragon Team, 1939, is remembered with a mural of their own at 307 E. Interlake Blvd.
"Repeat after me," Bullock told the mostly Class of 1978 audience, "On this day, Jan. 11, 2013, we proclaim this gym be named in honor of Bill Ross."
The audience repeated him enthusiastically, then went into a prolonged "LP!" chant.
It was Ross's son Dylan who had the last word, "Thank you," he said, "for loving, honoring and caring about my father."
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