Leroy grew up in Wharton Texas, a small town about sixty miles south of Houston. “When I grew up there, it was a town of 10,000 people and it’s still a town of 10,000 people. Someone’s born and someone leaves. The population stays the same.”
Leroy laughs when he recalls one of his favorite stories about his childhood. “ I was eight or nine years old and the county fair was in town. My folks would only let us go one or two times as we had school and other duties. My brother and I decided to sneak out one night. We told our folks we were going to watch TV with some friends and instead we went to the fair. It was about nine o’clock when we headed home. There was a cemetery next to the fairgrounds that we had to pass and because we were so afraid of ghosts, we would always join hands and run as fast as we could until we got past the cemetery. We didn’t start walking again until we were far enough away. That particular night we had run past the cemetery and, feeling safe, we began to walk. There was a cornfield next to that cemetery and as we were walking by we saw an object with a white sheet over it and determined that it was a ghost. Well, I could run a lot faster than my brother, but that night he kept right up with me. We were huffing and puffing when we got home and joined my mom on the porch. We couldn’t tell her where we had been. We sat there talking; my uncle came up and then my dad joined us. My dad kept snickering and chuckling and couldn’t stop. We finally told our mom where we had been and that we had seen a ghost. By that time, my dad was laughing so hard he had to go around to the back of the house. I heard my mom ask him later if he had scared us boys. We still weren’t sure it wasn’t a real ghost and we never again went to the fair without permission.”
Considering himself lucky in life, Leroy says, “ In my little hometown I could have gone to the left or to the right. Some of my childhood friends made the wrong choices. I was lucky; with my parents’ guidance I made the choice to take the right road. In high school I received a scholarship to college. In college I was lucky again and was drafted by the Patriots as their 11th round draft choice for cornerback. I beat out the number one draft choice and became a starter. I played in the NFL for seven years. Knowing I wouldn’t be playing football when I was fifty, I started planning for my future and worked in real estate. Then I went into Venture Capital, which I’m still doing. I put together three or four deals a year and the rest of my time is devoted to charity work.”
Leroy is a proud grandparent. He loves to spend time with his granddaughters and is always available when he gets the phone call saying, “ Poppy, we want a sleepover, come pick us up.” Their favorite excursions are “messing around at the parks” especially Washington Park where they love to play on the jungle gyms.
What’s important in your life?Family and friends
What’s in your future?My future is real simple. I want to do more to help disadvantaged youth. I’ll work one or two more years and then retire. Then I’ll concentrate more time on reaching out to the smaller charitable organizations, those that have very little money but very big causes.
What are your volunteer activities? I’m the President of the NFL Alumni, Rocky Mountain Chapter and the Bronco’s Alumni. The NFL Alumni is a non-profit organization of former professional football players who work voluntarily on behalf of youth and charity. Everything is volunteer, our offices, legal help, supplies, telephone etc., so we have no overhead. All of our efforts are geared for children’s charities.
Which social event is your favorite? Bronco Alumni Weekend. Pat Bowlen brings in all of the players that would like to attend. On Friday we have a big banquet, Saturday is golf day and Sunday we all go to the Broncos game.
Favorite restaurant? Maggiano’s
Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? Spike Lee. I first met Spike backstage at the DCPA. He’s such a down to earth person, very genuine and doesn’t cut corners. He tells it like it is.
f your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part? Denzel Washington for my younger age and Sidney Poitier for now. I like Sidney’s presentation and his philosophy. He wasn’t wealthy growing up; he made it on his own.
Do you have any pets? No, we had a pet poodle when my daughter was little. As the dog grew old, it became senile and one day a car hit it. It was like having a family funeral; we were all in tears. I decided not to go through that again.
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? These owners have impeccable taste. Well, actually they will probably say “the woman living here has impeccable taste.”
What do you think makes it a home? It’s the little things my wife does; the way she decorates and makes everything complement each other. She has a special touch; there’s caring in our home.
What word describes you best? Caring
How would you like others to describe you? As a good person
What was your first job? Mowing lawns
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Never accepting no for an answer
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Not accepting others because they are different
What is your greatest indulgence? Being able to tolerate people that rub me the wrong way
What is the best gift you’ve received? A healthy daughter and two healthy granddaughters
What or who is the greatest love in your life? mom
What is your current state of mind? Relaxed
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Beating out a first round draft choice to become a starter in the NFL as a rookie.
What is your most treasured possession? My high school class ring. I lost it when I was about 28 and cried at the loss. My mom found it a few years later in the sofa lining of the couch. It reminds me that I made right choices.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Honesty
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Charisma
Favorite books/writers? Alex Haley. I don’t read a lot because I can’t sit still long enough.
What is the best advice you have ever received?Be yourself
Do you have a motto?If you think you can’t, you won’t.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you? When I was around twelve years old there was a big fire. It was like this big ball of fire was right in our window. The hayfield about a mile away had caught on fire, but no one in the neighborhood knew that. Everyone panicked and there was chaos and commotion everywhere. The sirens were blaring. People were frantic, filling up their cars with clothes and food and taking off towards the water. We piled into our car on top of all the clothes and started off. My dad thought we had forgotten his brother, but he was there at the bottom of the pile. Everyone thought it was the end of the world when it was only a hayfield on fire. Once things settled down, people returned to their homes and stayed up all night laughing about the whole experience.
If you could come back in another lifetime, what/who would you like to be? And why? Myself. I’ve had an interesting life. I haven’t had it that easy but I think you appreciate things more when you have to earn it.
What are your hobbies? Other interests? Golf, skiing, antiques, charity events.
Who is your mentor? My mom
What would you most like to be remembered for? Helping others
If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be? I’d like to live by a waterfront and be a good swimmer. When I was young I lost four schoolmates in a swimming accident at the beach. My mom wouldn’t let us go near the water.
What do you like about the town you live in? The climate and the people