Tue February 19, 2013
U of L's First African-American Football Player Dies in House Fire
A family member said the University of Louisville's first African-American football player, Laurence Simmons, was killed over the weekend in a house fire.
Maj. Henry Ott, of Louisville Fire & Rescue, said the 79-year-old Simmons was living in a basement bedroom when a fire started Saturday morning likely due to a frayed extension cord used to power a space heater. No one else was injured.
His brother, Norman Simmons, told The Courier-Journal that Laurence Simmons played offensive lineman for the University of Louisville in 1952 and was a standout football player at Central High School.
Rocco Gasparro, a spokesman for the football team, said two published history books about the team identified Simmons as the school's first black player.