Lamar athletics mourns the loss of Tony Guillory
A trailblazer, and one of Lamar University’s most celebrated athletes, Anthony (Tony) Guillory, passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 78.
A 1985 Cardinals Hall of Honor inductee, Guillory broke the color barrier becoming the first African-American student-athlete to don a Cardinals’ football uniform. A three-year letterwinner, Guillory was known for dismantling opposing offenses while guiding the program to their first Southland Conference title and a berth in the 1964 Pecan Bowl. The title sparked a run of three consecutive titles for the Red and White, which would go down as their most successful run in SLC history.
Guillory was recognized for his efforts on the field earning All-Southland Conference honors at defensive guard. He was also named Lamar’s Most Outstanding Lineman that season. He made history the moment he stepped on the field during the 1962-63 season becoming the student-athlete to integrate the athletics program and received honorable mention All-American honors on the gridiron that season.
A year before bringing a conference title to Beaumont in football, Guillory was a key figure in helping Big Red’s track and field team lay claim to the 1963 conference championship. He scored points in the shot put and discus, finishing with a record toss of 54-11.75 in the shot.
Guillory continued his playing career professionally being drafted in the seventh round of the 1965 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He spent three seasons with the Rams (1965, 1967-68) before closing out his career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1969. He played in 53 games during his career registering 23 starts. He was one of 16 pro footballers given the keys to the city of Beaumont in 1971.
Remembering Anthony Guillory
Southeast Texans are remembering Anthony ‘Tony’ Guillory, the first black athlete at Lamar State College of Technology, now Lamar University.
Anthony Guillory died Tuesday of health-related problems.
He helped Hebert High School win a state football title in 1959, and in early 1962, he broke the color barrier at Lamar Tech.
Anthony Guillory became a star player and went on to play professional football between 1965 and 1969.
He’s a member of the Lamar Hall of Honor.
Tony Guillory went on to a long career with ExxonMobil in Beaumont and he was a businessman.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Tony Guillory was 78 years old.
From Lamar University – One of Lamar University’s most celebrated football players, Anthony (Tony) Guillory dismantled opposing offenses in 1964 when he had an awesome season in leading the Cardinals to their first outright football championship.
In that great campaign, Guillory earned an All-Southland Conference spot at defensive guard and was selected as Lamar’s “Most Outstanding Lineman.”
Guillory integrated Lamar’s athletic program in the 1962-63 season. He received All-America honorable mention in football that autumn and helped the Cardinals capture their first rack title in the spring of 1963 by scoring points in the shot put and discus. Guillory set a shot put record of 53 feet, 11 3/4 inches in 1963. He earned three letters in each sport.
From 1965 through 1969, Guillory was a standout performer for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams as a linebacker and captain of special teams. He blocked a punt to set up the winning score in a late 1967 game against Green Bay that enabled the Rams to win the NFL’s Coastal Division title.
As the first black football player to ever don a Lamar University jersey, Tony Guillory remembers the tough times that came with integrating the team in 1962.
He remembers the first day of practice, when his fellow Cardinals fled the showers as he walked in. He remembers being called “that word” by teammates, then taking out his anger by embarrassing those same teammates in one-on-one drills. During road trips for away games, Guillory often wasn’t allowed to stay in the team hotel, instead bunking at a black family’s home in town and being picked up before the game.
In early 1962, Anthony Guillory became the first black athlete at Lamar State College of Technology (now Lamar University). A speedy and talented defensive lineman, Guillory helped Beaumont’s Hebert High School win a state football championship in 1959. Upon graduating in 1961, though, Guillory had to look outside of Texas for top-notch collegiate programs willing to recruit an African American.
This situation would change dramatically over the course of the 1960s. During Guillory’s first semester at the University of Nebraska, Lamar Head Coach J. B. Higgins came calling to encourage him to return to Beaumont to integrate Cardinal football. That spring, Guillory threw the shot and discuss for the track team before joining football for spring training. This made Lamar one of the first four-year colleges in Texas—or even South of the Mason-Dixon Line—to integrate its athletic program.
“The black community in Beaumont was excited that I was out there playing football for Lamar,” Guillory recalled in an interview with Robert Jacobus. On his first day with the team, many of the white players left the showers when Guillory walked in. After this, though, he quickly earned the respect of his fellow Cardinals and emerged as a defensive star. At 6-1 and 227 pounds, this lineman was somewhat remarkably the second fastest player on the team. Both the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL and the Houston Oilers of the AFL drafted Guillory, and he went on to play 53 professional games between 1965 and 1969.
We are proud to welcome Mr. Guillory back to Lamar’s campus at 5:30 PM on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 as a featured guest at an event called From Thursday Night Lights to a Black Man in the Huddle. Joined by local gridiron legends, including Mr. Guillory, historians Robert Jacobus and Michael Hurd will share some of their research into the generation of black football players in Southeast Texas that helped break the color barrier in collegiate athletics across the South.
This free event is open to the public and will certainly be of interest to fans of Lamar Athletics and the Hebert High School Alumni Association.
Image courtesy of Special Collections at the Mary and John Gray Library, Lamar University.
During that time, thousands of black players have gone on to play college football, Lamar University eliminated its football program only to bring it back and on Wednesday, former West Orange-Stark quarterback Andre Bevil, also black, will become the revived program’s first official signee.