LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - For nine years, the Lufkin Pro Day Group has come together to honor the past. Every year is special and different. This year was no exception.
The Mills Brothers have done it all. Both Curtis and Marvin were exceptional athletes. Curtis was always fast on the track while his late brother Marvin was a multi-sport athlete.
The two were good enough at Dunbar High School, the segregated school for African Americans, that Curtis became one of the first African-American athletes to get a scholarship to Texas A&M. He signed at the same time as Sidney Chanchere and Edgar Harvey in 1969.
Curtis would go on to help set 11 school records. In his first year he set the NCAA 440 yard dash world record. He was also a member of the Aggie relay team that set two more world records. In 2015, Curtis was inducted into the SWC Hall of Fame.
The duo has been described as the best sibling combo to come out of the school. Both of the Mills brothers were inducted into the Texas A&M Hall of Fame as well.
"This really is special," Mills said. "For both my brother and I plus our family. We are from Lufkin and to see where this town has gone is amazing."
From an early age the two knew they were fast.
"It started in elementary school," Mills said. Then in high school. We didn't have a track but we had a dirt road. We had coaches that said we could win and get first place. We did that. We took it to college and set meet records and then world records. it has been a good roller coaster."
The Mills were not the only former Dunbar Athletes to have their moment. The night also belonged to the 1964, '66 and '67 Dunbar Tigers State Championship Teams. The Tigers competed in the Prairie View Interscholastic League which was comprised of segregated schools from around the state. The team was led by Coach Elmer Redd, who died in 2000. He was inducted into the Pro Day group himself in 2013. For the players of those teams, the night was a time to have their moment and come together once again.
"It makes us real proud to know what we did," former Dunbar Defensive Back Clarence Ross said. "We were pioneers in this area. We did things no one else had done in this area. This is a great time to be here and be honored by our home town and come back and see all these old familiar faces. It is wonderful."
The night was not just about the past. The event also honored the future. The Lufkin Pro Day Group recently awarded $4,500 in scholarships to nine, 2018 high school graduates from the six Angelina County schools.
Scholarship winners were chosen for demonstrated excellence in academics, leadership, student involvement and community service during their high school careers.
The 2018 LPDG scholarship recipients are: Pamela Thornton, Hudson; Temitayo Odunuga, Central; Armani Walker, Huntington; Luis Hernandez, Diboll; Lesley Sallas, Zavalla; and Ashley Ross, Ryann Martin, Jaden Wortham and Jose Cuc from Lufkin.
The Lufkin Pro Day Group scholarships are funded from the proceeds received from the annual banquet, which honors individuals from Angelina county who have had exceptional careers both on and off the field with emphasis on sports. TLPDG has honored 24 individuals over the past seven years at their annual banquet. The Lufkin Pro Day Group is a 501c non-profit organization and has awarded scholarships to area students the past two years.