DECATUR, Ga. - A basketball team that won a championship almost 50 years ago is finally getting the recognition they deserve. The 1968-69 men’s basketball team at Decatur High School won the regional championship, but their trophy is missing.
"Over the years we don't know where the trophy went, whether it was lost, broken, destroyed, stolen, we have no idea," said the Rodney Thomas, the Athletic Director.
Sammy Favers was on that team. He said they were the first interracial team to win a championship at Decatur High School. It was the beginning of Desegregation. Favers and some of his teammates were among the first African-American students to attend the school.
"It was very isolating, the few black students here had to support each other," said Favers.
Favers said he found friends through basketball. It's something they had in common.
In his junior year, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
"Dr. King was taken away from us and that was a big blow, but instead of reacting negatively to it, we decided to win a basketball tournament. And you know when you win a championship, everyone is the same. Everyone is happy to achieve something that is important to all of us," said Favers.
“The team, this program, brought this city together. It brought unity and respect,” said Jerry McNeal who played on the team.
To the team, the trophy symbolizes much more than their game victory. Friday night, a duplicate trophy was presented to the team in the middle of the basketball court. All but 3 of the members of the 1968-69 team were there to accept it. Some of the cheerleaders showed up too.
"There's a spiritual aspect to this, that 49 years later we get the trophy and we get to celebrate Dr. King's holiday at the same time," said Favers.