Celebrating Lee Roy Selmon, a Tampa Bay Icon & Community Champion on His Birthday
Lee Roy Selmon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ inaugural pick in the 1976 draft, left an indelible mark on the world of football. His stellar career on and off the field solidified his legacy as a true Tampa Bay legend. Even years after his passing, his influence resonates within our community. Beyond being an extraordinary athlete and a football champion, he is celebrated as a community champion who displayed kindness and advocated for education.
The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, named in his honor, reflects his dedication to serving Tampa Bay. In collaboration with the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA), Mr. Selmon’s mission to provide mentorship and educational opportunities is carried forward. To pay tribute to his legacy, THEA established the Selmon STEM Scholarship Program, offering young scholars a pathway to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Each year, THEA:
- Awards monetary scholarships to four USF students
- Sponsors an annual bridge-building competition, offering middle and high school students STEM enrichment beyond the classroom
- Provides paid internship opportunities for USF Engineering students at THEA, facilitating their immersion in the transportation industry
Additionally, Lee Roy Selmon is commemorated through a magnificent bronze sculpture, standing heroically in downtown Tampa near USF’s medical school along the Selmon Greenway.
In the words of THEA CEO Greg Slater, “Lee Roy Selmon is an icon of the community – a leader wrapped in an unpretentious personality that exuded warmth and respect for every person he met. Our hope is that each of us will continue to learn from him and be inspired to do our part in making our community a better place.”
Lee Roy Selmon’s journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to both athletics and education:
- 1954: Born in Eufaula, Oklahoma, as the youngest of nine children to Lucious and Jessie Selmon.
- 1971: Attends the University of Oklahoma on an athletic scholarship as a National Honor Society member.
- 1974: Becomes a 3-time All-American at O.U., contributing to back-to-back National Championship titles.
- 1975: Graduates from O.U. with a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education.
- 1976: Becomes the #1 pick of the 1976 NFL Draft, joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- 1979: Earns NFL Defensive Player of the Year accolades and contributes to the Bucs’ first winning season.
- 1980-1985: Represents the Bucs in multiple NFL Pro Bowls.
- 1986: Retires from pro football, with the #63 jersey retired by the Bucs.
- 1988: Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
- 1993: Joins the University of South Florida as Associate Athletic Director, serving as Athletic Director from 2001 to 2004.
- 1995: Inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, becoming the first former Sooner and the sole Tampa Bay Buccaneer to date.
- 2008: THEA renames the “Crosstown” to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, commemorating a local legend.
- 2011: The University of South Florida renames its athletic center as the “Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center.”
- 2019: THEA dedicates a bronze statue to Lee Roy Selmon on the Selmon Greenway, honoring one of Tampa’s greatest champions.
Presently, THEA upholds Lee Roy Selmon’s legacy through the Selmon STEM Scholarship Program, ensuring his inspirational impact continues to shape the community’s future.