Long Beach Poly alum and 1959 CIF Football Player of the Year Willie Brown passed away today due to complications from cancer. He was 76.
Services are pending. Brown is survived by his wife, Carole, son, Brian, daughter, Kimberly and grandchildren Nathan and Alana, and his brother, Oscar.
Brown shared the Poly backfield with Dee Andrews as a junior, and when Andrews went down with injury during the 1958 playoffs, Brown stepped up. He scored four touchdowns and gained 106 yards on 17 carries in the 31-19 championship game win at the L.A. Coliseum. The Jackrabbits went 22-0-1 during Brown’s junior and seniors season while winning two championships.
After playing multiple sports at Poly, Brown was All-Conference at USC where he won a football national championship in 1962, and a baseball title in 1963. He spent three years in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams (1964-65) and Philadelphia Eagles (1966), and then returned to USC as an assistant football coach (1968-75) and an assistant baseball coach (1969-70). Both teams won national titles. Brown was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
In an interview with a USC publication a few years ago, Brown talked about how he grew up with he bothers at Long Beach parks.
“We had great people working there, two or three coaches who ran the flag football teams, the basketball teams and the little league teams,” Brown said. “My brothers and I would have never had the opportunity to become professional athletes down the road if it weren’t for people like that, if it weren’t for people giving us a chance.”