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*Roosevelt Grier was born on this date in 1932. He is a Black actor, singer, minister, and former professional football player.
Born in Cuthbert, Georgia, as one of twelve children, Grier was named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He played high school football at Abraham Clark High School in Roselle, New Jersey, graduating in 1951.
After playing on the Penn State University football team, Grier was drafted as the 31st overall pick in the third round of the 1955 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He played with the Giants from 1955 to 1962; Grier was selected for the Pro Bowl in 1956 and 1960 and was named All-Pro at the defensive tackle position in 1956 and 1958–1962. Grier was then traded in July 1963 to the Los Angeles Rams. He was part of the "Fearsome Foursome," along with Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, and Lamar Lundy, considered one of the best defensive lines in football history. His career ended in 1967 due to a torn Achilles tendon.
From there, Grier hosted the Rosey Grier Show, a weekly half-hour television show discussing community affairs in Los Angeles. Grier served as a bodyguard for his friend, United States senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. He was guarding Ethel Kennedy, the Senator's wife, who was then expecting a child, the night that Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968. As Grier caught up, he saw men wrestling with gunman Sirhan Sirhan. Grier jumped into the fray. Grier states, "So I see George Plimpton has the gun pointed at his face, and I'm concerned that it is going to go off, so I put my hand under the trigger housing, and I pulled back the hammer so it couldn't strike. I wrench the gun from Sirhan. I find the pin and I ripped it out and held it. Now I have the gun in my hand, so I shove it in my pocket." Grier later said, "I grabbed the man's legs and dragged him onto a table. There was a guy angrily twisting the killer's legs and other angry faces coming towards him, as though they were going to tear him to pieces. I fought them off. I would not allow more violence."
In December 1968, he accompanied Bob Hope on "Operation Holly," Hope's 1968 USO tour. Grier hosted his own Los Angeles television show and frequently appeared on various shows during the 1960s and 1970s. As a singer, his recording of a tribute to Robert Kennedy, "People Make the World", was his only chart single, peaking at No. 128 in 1968. Grier is known for pursuing hobbies not traditionally associated with men. He authored several books, including Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men in 1973.
Grier became an ordained Protestant minister in 1983 and travels as an inspirational speaker. He has ministered to O.J. Simpson and founded American Neighborhood Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that serves inner-city youth. He was also a featured speaker at the 1984 Republican National Convention; during its evening session on August 20, 1984, he endorsed President Ronald Reagan for re-election. Grier has a daughter from a previous relationship named Sherryl Brown-Tubbs. He has been married three times. Grier released his autobiography Rosey: The Gentle Giant in 1986. Grier has also written several books and now travels as an inspirational speaker. He co-founded American Neighborhood Enterprises, an organization that works to help disadvantaged city dwellers buy homes and receive vocational training. Grier was ordained a Protestant minister in 1983, and the next year he founded his nonprofit resource center for inner-city teens, developing spiritual and educational programs for disadvantaged youths.
Grier is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He is also on the Milken Family Foundation board of trustees and serves as its program administrator of community affairs. He was honored by Penn State as the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1974 and the Alumni Fellow Award in 1991. He was named to the NCAA's "List of the 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes," published to commemorate the NCAA's 100th anniversary. In 1997, he was inducted into the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame and announced his intention to run for governor of California as a Republican in the California gubernatorial election 2018. He ended his candidacy in July 2017.