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How many people from Wilmington have made it big in sports?

Chuck Carree

There are many athletes from the area who have gone on to professional sports careers and other accolades.

Here’s a list for a start, although it’s difficult to be completely comprehensive:


Sam Bowens, OF, Wilmington, Williston High: He played seven years in the majors and received a World Series ring with Baltimore Orioles in 1966.

Gus Brittain, C, New Hanover: He played for the Cincinnati Reds in 1937.

Tommy Greene, RHP, Whiteville: He tossed a no-hitter for the Phillies in 1991 and pitched in the 1993 World Series.

Bill Harris, IF, UNCW: He played two years in the majors, but is famous for running into the dugout in the ABC Wide World of Sports intro.

Chris Hatcher, UNCW: The former Seahawks catcher played five games for the Florida Marlins in 2010, then was turned into a reliever by the franchise and returned to the majors to pitch on July 16, 2011. He is the first MLB players since 1936 to accomplish the feat.

Patrick Lennon, OF, Whiteville: He played six seasons with four big league teams.

Quinton McCracken, OF, South Brunswick H.S.: He played 12 years with six teams in the big leagues as a switch-hitting outfielder.

Steve Mintz, RHP, North Brunswick H.S.: He spent two seasons in the majors and is now the pitching coach for the Fort Myers (Fla.) Miracle in the Minnesota Twins system.

Ron Musselman, RHP, Hoggard: In three seasons, he had a 3.73 ERA in the majors.

Donell Nixon, OF, West Columbus H.S.: He played four years in the bigs and participated in the 1989 “Earthquake” World Series with the San Francisco Giants.

Otis Nixon, OF, West Columbus H.S.: He played 17 years in the majors and finished with 620 career steals.

Trot Nixon, OF, New Hanover: He hit .357 in the 2004 World Series when the Red Sox broke the curse of the Bambino.

John Raynor, OF, UNCW: Signed with the Florida Marlins after the 2006 MLB draft and played 11 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010.

Carl Willis, RHP, UNCW: He helped the Minnesota Twins win the 1991 World Series after compiling an 8-3 record, 3.10 ERA in relief. He is now the pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners.


Sam Aiken, WR, James Kenan H.S.: Current free agent has played in the NFL for Buffalo (2003-07), New England (2008-10) and Cleveland (2010).

Connor Barth, K, Hoggard: Current Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

Arnold Brown, DB, Laney: He played two seasons in the NFL.

Wray Carlton, RB, Wallace: Key player on Buffalo Bills 1964-65 AFL championship teams.

Alge Crumpler, TE, New Hanover: The four-time Pro Bowl selection is currently a free agent after playing in the NFL with Atlanta (2001-07), Tennessee (2008-09) and New England (2010).

Roman Gabriel, QB, New Hanover: He is a former NFL MVP and in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Nate Irving, LB, Wallace-Rose Hill H.S.: The 2011 Brian Piccolo Award winner from the ACC for his return to play after a car accident that broke his leg, Irving was an all-ACC selection (and third-team All-American by the Associated Press) in 2010 and a third-round draft pick in 2011 by the Denver Broncos.

Kitwana Jones, DE, Laney: The former UNC and Hampton University player has been in the Canadian Football League since 2005 and is currently with the Montreal Alouettes.

Sonny Jurgensen, QB, New Hanover: He is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Chester McGlockton, DT, Whiteville: He played in four pro bowls.

Greg Peterson, DE, East Duplin H.S.: Played for Tampa Bay and Jacksonville in the NFL for three seasons and is currently on the roster of Hartford in the UFL.

Jay Ross, DL, New Hanover: Former Wildcat and East Carolina standout was on the Green Bay Packers practice squad for the 2011 Super Bowl champions.

Clyde Simmons, DE, New Hanover: He finished with 121.5 career sacks in the NFL and was a part of the New York Jets coaching staff in 2010.

Reggie Singletary, DT-OG, West Columbus H.S.: He played five years in the NFL.

Owen Spencer, WR, North Brunswick: All-time leader in yards per catch at N.C. State, signed as undrafted rookie free agent with Tennessee Titans in July 2011.

Hal Stephens, DE, Whiteville: He played with the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions.


Chucky Brown, North Brunswick H.S.: He won an NBA title with the Houston Rockets and played 13 seasons in the NBA. He is now a scout for the New Orleans Hornets.

M.L. Carr, Wallace-Rose Hill: He was a former Boston Celtics player and later became the team’s coach. He was famous for towel waving on the bench on the teams with Larry Bird.

Kenny Gattison, New Hanover: He played in 494 NBA games and later became an NBA assistant coach.

Michael Jordan, Laney: You might have heard of him. NCAA champion. Six-time NBA champion. Olympic gold medalist. 2009 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Current chairman and majority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

Meadowlark Lemon, Williston H.S.: He was known as the Clown Prince of Basketball and went into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Sam Pellom, Leland H.S.: He played four seasons in the NBA with Atlanta and Milwaukee from 1979-83.

Cedric Simmons, West Brunswick H.S.: Played for NC State and four NBA teams from 2006-09. He has been playing in the Chinese Basketball Association since the fall of 2009.

Chris Wilcox, Whiteville: Has played for five teams over nine NBA seasons after winning an NCAA title at Maryland.

Tamera Young, Laney: No. 3 all-time leading scorer in Colonial Athletic Association, three-time all-CAA selection and inaugural draft pick of WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. Now member of Chicago Sky.


Jackie Rogers: Born in Wilmington in 1943, ran on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series from 1974-76, competing in 41 races with 10 top-10 finishes.

Chad McCumbee, Supply: Raced regularly in NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series from 2006-2009 and had three top-five finishes. Has made one start in 2011.

Hoss Ellington, Wilmington: Former NASCAR racer and, later, team owner from 1968-1989.


Althea Gibson, Wilmington: Five-time Grand Slam singles champion moved to city for tennis in the mid-1940s and was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.


Cody Arnoux, New Hanover: All-State selection and all-American at Wake Forest, won national championship with Deacons in 2007. Now playing professionally with Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer.

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15 Responses to “ How many people from Wilmington have made it big in sports?”

  1. On December 23, 2009 at 12:19 pm ray sharpe wrote:

    You forgot Bruce Fleisher , pro golfer,who grew up at Pine Valley and was the 3rd youngest ever to win the US Amatuer, plus he won the US Senior Open and a host of senior tour events.
    He left in the 9th grade to move to Jamacia.

  2. On December 24, 2009 at 4:38 pm D.B. wrote:

    He’s not “from” this area, but lived here for a while.

    Matt Fish: UNCW Basketball player, drafted in the 2nd round of the 1992 draft, who played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Washington Bullets. Fish has also played in the IBA and the CBA. He was seldom used backup center but usually a fan favorite due to his hard work. His signature move was coined the “Fish Hook.”

  3. On December 25, 2009 at 1:49 am Thurston Cumbee2 wrote:

    I am sure there is a lot more to be said about Michael Jordon and also Richard Brickhouse from Rock Point was a well known racer in the Wilmingto area and he also won the Talladega AL race whlle driving in NASCAR.

  4. On December 26, 2009 at 12:46 am chris Neal wrote:

    what abut Ben Bourgeois?

  5. On December 26, 2009 at 9:22 am Carroll Pearsall wrote:

    Richard Brickhouse of Rocky Point should be listed under Racing. He was a NASCAR driver and won The Talladega 500 years ago.

  6. On December 26, 2009 at 1:37 pm Demetrius Hill wrote:

    Tre Whitted; Laney, Now plays For the NBA D-League team Springfield Armor.
    Kevin Whitted; Laney, Now Assistant Coach For The NBA D-League Team Springfield Armor

  7. On December 26, 2009 at 2:12 pm JJosey5099 wrote:

    What happened to Reggie Gaines (NHHS) and Winston Salem State University drafted by Philadelphia 76er’s (Third Round-67th pick)? Clarence Leroy Key (NHHS) and Lamar University, drafted by the Dallas Mavericks. Played two seasons 1980-81, 1981-82.

  8. On December 27, 2009 at 11:18 pm ??? wrote:

    James Farrior, (from the Pittburg Steelers)- Grandfather is a local man and I wonder if he is a local sport hall of fame member as well.

  9. On February 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm James wrote:

    Teana McKiver-state champ in basketball at East Duplin in 1998-NC female athlete of the year. Star at Tulane went on to play with the Charlotte Sting in the WNBA. From Chinquapin.

  10. On November 12, 2010 at 7:40 am Thomas maultsby wrote:

    Charlie Niven, a star running back for NHHS in the mid fifties, later played Canadian football I believe, but I do not know for which team.

  11. On August 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm Jim Ware wrote:

    This list was updated by Dan Spears on Aug. 5, 2011.

  12. On August 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm John Osmar wrote:

    What about Willie Stargell and Dominique Wilkins?

  13. On August 18, 2011 at 10:39 pm Donna Shawver wrote:

    You left out our very own Jeff Dobbins —- PRO STOCK RACER and TWO TIME IHRA (International Hot Rod Association) TOP SPORTSMAN WORLD CHAMPION!!!

  14. On January 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm Wanda Watson wrote:

    Roman Ildonzo Gabriel, Jr. (born August 5, 1940 in Wilmington, North Carolina) Football Quarterback


  15. On February 27, 2013 at 5:19 pm Richard Killian wrote:

    I think it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to link James Farrior to Wilmington, N.C. and the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame. He was born in Virginia, graduated from high school in Virginia and was a star football player at the University of Virginia before playing for the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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