“IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, THE MIND CAN ACHIEVE IT.”
Carrying on a Legacy
- Updated: June 23, 2014
On Oct. 28, 1989 Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins of Ole Miss tackled a Vanderbilt ball carrier in a thunderous collision, one so violent that it crushed four vertebrae in Mullins’ back and left him a quadriplegic.
Two years later, Mullins died of a pulmonary embolism caused by inactivity. He is buried in northwest Alabama, his grave simply stating “Chucky, Man of Courage.”
“After he got hurt, all Chucky could move were his lips and his eyes, but they were always smiling,” Billy Brewer, Mullins’ Ole Miss Coach, told the Jackson (Miss) Clarion Ledger in 2009. “He never asked, ‘Why me?’ He was a positive influence on everyone he encountered. He kept fighting. He wanted to live.”
Mullins’ courage lives on at Ole Miss where his number 38 is retired* and an annual award, “The Chucky Mullins Courage Award” is bestowed on a player who has exhibited the same spirit, perseverance, determination and courage that Mullins did after his injury.
The only player to win the award twice is Deterrian Shackelford, a sixth-year linebacker who has persevered through a series of injuries.
An honor student – he has been on the SEC honor roll five times – Shackelford is one of 42 players on the 2014 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List. (Current San Francisco Linebacker Patrick Willis, a former Lott IMPACT Trophy nominee, was named the Mullins award winner when he was at Ole Miss).
Shackelford is more than a feel good story. He is a role model of the highest order who has been nominated for several other national awards, including the Wuerffel Trophy which honors exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletic achievement, the AFCA Good Works Team and the Coach John Wooden Citizenship Award. He was a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award semifinalist last year.
After missing two seasons with knee injuries, Shackelford returned last season and played in every Ole Miss game, recording 44 tackles and 7.5 tackles for losses. For his career, he has 112 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
“The impact that those two knee surgeries had on me, I kind of took on that spirit that Chucky displayed every day in the training room and different things I did,” said Shackelford. “My goal was never to just come back. It was to come back and be something special and strive to be great on a daily basis with the help of my teammates, coaches, family and those people that have been behind me.
“The first time I received the award I was on crutches and was in tears because I was ready to play, but it wasn’t my time. It’s the little things I appreciate now,” said Shackelford.
“We had three guys we felt were very deserving (of the Mullins Award),” said head coach Hugh Freeze. “We probably had more quality candidates this year than in the past couple of seasons that I’ve been here, but I think he exemplifies the spirit and heart that Chucky did and off the field the things he’s done.”
An acknowledged campus leader, Shackelford is involved in pre-college counseling during the summer and has made numerous speaking engagements on behalf of Ole Miss. He’s also made mission trips to Panama and Haiti.
He has earned his bachelor’s degree in history and has nearly completed work on his master’s degree in education.
Deterrian Shackelford: A true champion, carrying on a legacy to a long-ago fallen player.
*The only other number retired at Ole Miss is No. 18, which was worn by both Archie and Eli Manning.