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Kenny Washington
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Football Player
    (August 31, 1918-June 24, 1971)
    Born in Los Angeles, California
    Birth name was Kenneth Stanley Washington
    First African-American to sign a contract with a National Football League (NFL) team in the post-WWII era, a year before Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1946)
    Played for the UCLA Bruins (1939-1942)
    Played Semi-Pro for the Hollywood Bears, Pacific Coast League (1940-43)
    Played for the San Francisco Clippers, American Football League (1944)
    Played halfback for the Los Angeles Rams (1946-48)
    Known as one of the 'Forgotten Four' who broke the color barrier in pro football, along with Woody Strode, Marion Motley, and Bill Willis in 1946
    Also gained fame as a liquor public relations executive and baseball scout after his retirement
    Acted in 'While Thousands Cheer,' 'The Little Foxes,' 'Rogue's Regiment,' 'Rope of Sand,' 'Easy Living,' 'Pinky,' and 'The Jackie Robinson Story'
    His nickname was 'Kingfish.'
    His father had a bit part in 'Gone With the Wind.'
    He was rejected for military service during WWII due to knee surgeries he had recently undergone, making him one of the few professional athletes not to serve.
    He split his paycheck with his uncle to hide the fact that he was being paid the same as white NFL players.
    By the time the NFL became integrated, he was already past his prime as an athlete and was unable to duplicate the success of his college years during his three year stint with the NFL (he tried out for the New York Giants after finishing with the Rams, but his option wasn't picked up).
    He was an ardent Richard Nixon supporter, as far back as his 1950 California Senate race, in which he and Louise Beavers hosted 'Vote for Nixon' rallies in South Central LA, giving out door prizes in the form of toasters and salt/pepper shakers.
    He and Beavers figured into the Nixon campaign's strategy to weaken opponent Helen Gahagan Douglas' support in the black community and in Hollywood.
    He was so tight with Nixon that he hosted Nixon and his top aides at his South LA home for beers, on the night of his Senate election.
    Not only is he in Jackie Robinson's shadow as a 'barrier-breaking athlete,' but even within the 'Forgotten Four,' he remains overshadowed by footballer-turned-movie star, Woody Strode.
    His life in Jackie Robinson's shadow was made complete when he was given a small role as a coach in Robinson's biopic, 'the Jackie Robinson Story' (1950).
    He was the first African-American to play baseball for UCLA, with a .454 batting average to fellow Bruin, Jackie Robinson's .097 average (ironically).
    He set a UCLA school record with a 1,914 yard rush.
    He is the first UCLA athlete to have his jersey number, 13, be retired by the University.
    He received the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy for Most Outstanding Player in College Football (1939).
    He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (1956).
    Racial discrimination resulted in his being named to the second string All-America team, instead of the first, and his being omitted from the East-West Shrine Game. A poll conducted soon after revealed college players choosing Washington for the team overwhelmingly, out of 664 players (1939).
    His strong performance against the Green Bay Packers at the Chicago Soldiers Field left such an impression that sports moguls and journalists began seriously arguing for a lift on the NFL's no-blacks ban (1940).
    His 92-yard run still holds the Rams record for longest run from scrimmage.
    He led the league with a 7.4 yard-per-carry average (1947).
    He was physically attacked by racist NFLers during his games, exacerbating his already sensitive knees, and patiently tolerated racial harassment from spectators during his career.
    He worked part-time as a policeman during his football career, and joined the LAPD full time after his retirement.
    He paved the way for virtually every African American in professional sports who has come since, earning the affectionate title, 'the NFL's Jackie Robinson.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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