It was a special Thursday night for the Lufkin community at their annual Lufkin Pro Day Banquet. It's an event where they honor former Panthers who excelled not only in their sports, but grew up to do great things after graduating Lufkin High School.
It was a packed Lufkin Civic Center where three individuals were honored, including the late Pete Runnels, Trey Hearne and Jorvorskie Lane.
Runnels graduated LHS in 1945. After serving in the U.S. Marines, he made his way into the Major Leagues. Runnels finished his career with the Boston Red Sox and was inducted into their Hall of Fame.
The Runnels family came to receive the Lufkin Pro Day honor.
“Dad is lucky enough to be inducted into a lot of different places including the Red Sox Hall of Fame, and Texas Sports Hall of Fame, but to be honored by his hometown would mean a great deal to him,” said Runnel’s son, Pete Runnels.
Hearne is a 2001 graduate of LHS. He went to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and was later inducted into their Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Honor. Then in 2005, Hearne was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals where he pitched six seasons.
“It's a great honor, especially with the two guys that I'm here with tonight. They both made and played in the big show,” said Hearne. “I grew up and I knew a lot of those names who were also honored and you hear their stories. It's definitely very humbling to be a part of it.”
It was a surreal feeling for Lane as well when he scrolled through the names honored before him at the Lufkin Pro Day Banquet.
“I saw T.J. Turner, I saw Coach Outlaw, and I was looking at the wall like ‘Man, I've actually talked to these cats before.’ They all gave me the same advice. They said ‘You're going to be good one day. Just keep working,’” said Lane.
After his Panther days, Lane went on to play at Texas A&M where he rushed for over 2,100 yards and 49 touchdowns.
He wasn't done there and has played for the Miami Dolphins and most recently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As of right now, he's still rehabbing his way to get back onto the field after breaking his leg last season. Lane said he's working out three times a day from 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Currently a free agent, Lane said he's about six weeks from being back to his old self, and then he'll be waiting for the call to make his comeback.
“For me, it's simple. I'm not going to give up. For what? There's no point in giving up. It's just a broken leg. You learn from it, and you come from it back stronger. You make a team, you get on another team and you go from there. I'm nowhere near from quitting,” said Lane.
Lane comes back pretty regularly and can be spotted giving back to his community here in East Texas.
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