Atlanta Hall of Fame to induct four including high school luminary Dave Hunter

The Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame will induct its 15th class on Friday, Feb. 8, at Studio Theatre in Sandy Springs. The four-person class includes former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Buddy Curry, longtime Brookwood football coach Dave Hunter, broadcaster Ernie Johnson Jr. and five-time Paralympian Curtis Lovejoy. The annual Star of the Year Award will go to Atlanta United, which won the MLS Cup in only its second year of play.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a reception, buffet, silent auction, raffle and art exhibit featuring works from Kell High School students. The awards and induction ceremony will start at 7:45 and will be hosted by Ken Rodriguez of Fox 5. Nineteen previous Hall of Fame inductees are expected to attend the event.

Buddy Curry played his entire eight-year NFL career with the Falcons from 1980-87. The second-round pick was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was All-Pro in 1980 and 1982. Curry was a part of the franchise’s first division title in his rookie year, in which the team went 12-4, and also helped lead the team back to the postseason in 1982. Curry founded his charity, Kids & Pros, in 2002; the organization brings retired NFL players together with children ages 7-13 to teach character lessons and football fundamentals.

Dave Hunter compiled a record of 176-52-1 in 19 years as a head coach in Georgia, including 15 years at Brookwood High School in Snellville from 1987-2001. Hunter led Brookwood to the 1996 Class AAAA title with a 45-24 win over Valdosta, and won at least 10 games nine times at the school. He was named the NFL National Coach of the Year in 1996 and is a co-founder of the Corky Kell Classic, currently its Executive Director. In all, Hunter coached 36 years in Georgia before serving as longtime Athletic Director at Brookwood.

Ernie Johnson Jr. attended Marist School and then the University of Georgia before embarking on an Emmy-winning career in broadcasting. Johnson was a sports anchor and reporter at WSB-TV in Atlanta from 1982 until 1989, when he left to join Turner Sports. He has been the host of TNT’s award-winning Inside the NBA studio show since 1990, and has won the Sports Emmy for Best Studio Host three times. Johnson also worked with his father, the late Ernie Johnson Sr., on Braves broadcasts on SportSouth from 1993-96. Johnson Sr. was inducted in 2007.

Curtis Lovejoy is the most decorated Paralympian in U.S. history and has competed on five U.S. Paralympics teams, every summer cycle since 1996. He became the first Paralympian in history to medal in two non-related sports—swimming and fencing—at a Games. In swimming, Lovejoy has set 12 world records and won over 500 gold medals; he has won over 200 gold medals in fencing and was ranked the world’s top fencer from 1995-2014. The 62-year-old Atlanta native will look to compete in his sixth Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.

Atlanta United will be honored with the Star of the Year Award after setting soccer in the United States on fire. The team won MLS Cup in just its second season with a 2-0 win over Portland and set numerous MLS attendance records, including breaking its own season mark from the previous year. Atlanta United drew 901,033 fans over 17 regular-season games for an average of 53,002 per game, ranking No. 17 in the world over 2017-18. Striker Josef Martinez won the regular-season, All-Star Game and MLS Cup MVP Awards on his way to shattering the league’s single-season goals record (35 over the regular season and playoffs).

The four inductees will join the 74 members of the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, which aims “to honor Atlanta sports heroes, remember great moments in Atlanta sports history, and preserve the past from which future generations can learn and take pride.”

The first class in 2005 included Hank Aaron, Tommy Nobis, Dominque Wilkins, Bobby Cox, Bobby Dodd and Bobby Jones.

Individual tickets are $100 and can still be purchased before the event at Studio Theatre at City Springs is located at 1 Galambos Way in Sandy Springs.

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