Roy Lee "Chucky" Mullins
was born in Russellville, AL on July 8, 1969. He was orphaned in 1980
after his father abandoned him and his mother died. Carver Phillips,
who worked at a recreation center, had befriended Chucky and when Chucky's
mother died, Chucky asked to live with Phillips and his wife, Karen.
The Phillips', despite having two young children of their own and living on
meager wages, took in Chucky and his 16-year old brother. Chucky
excelled in several sports, but was Russellville's football MVP.
Chucky dreamed of playing football for Alabama, but after the Crimson Tide
only invited Chucky to walk-on, he began looking at other SEC schools.
Carver Phillips arranged a meeting with Ole Miss head football coach Billy
Brewer. Brewer was favorably impressed with Chucky's desire, if not
his athletic ability, and gave him a scholarship. Chucky was
redshirted his freshman year, but in his second year, he had earned a
position on special teams and was used as the fifth defense back in passing
situations. It was third down and goal for Vanderbilt on the 12-yard
line -- a passing situation -- when Chucky was injured ....
Chucky, moments before the start of
the Vanderbilt game and his tragic injury ...
Ole Miss hosted Vanderbilt
for homecoming on October 28, 1989. 34,500 Ole Miss fans were on hand
to cheer the Rebels. Vanderbilt took the opening kickoff and drove
down to the Ole Miss 12-yard line. There, the Commodores faced a
third-and-goal, an obvious passing situation where Chucky Mullins had
earned a spot as the fifth defensive back. The ball was snapped and on
a perfect timing pattern, Vanderbilt quarterback John Gromos delivered
the ball to 6', 225 pound running back Brad Gaines.
Arriving simultaneously with the ball was 6', 170 pound Chucky
Mullins. The ball was sent flying out of Gaines' grasp as both
he and Mullins tumbled to the ground ...
Chucky's hit saved a
touchdown, but broke four vertebrae in his back, causing permanent
The Crowd is Silenced
When Ole Miss trainer
Leroy Mullins arrived at Chucky's side, he leaned close and asked Chucky
where he was hurting. Chucky replied, "I can't feel
anything." Mullins promptly moved everyone away and made sure
Chucky was not moved. Chucky was strapped to a board, his neck secured
by a brace, and rushed away in an ambulance. Following a hurried
preliminary examination in Oxford, Chucky was immediately airlifted to
Memphis. There, a detailed examination revealed four of his neck
vertebrae were broken. The third, fourth, fifth, and six vertebrae in
his spine were completely shattered.
Ole Miss trainers
work feverishly to prepare Chucky for movement to a hospital after the most
feared football injury of all happened at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium ...
Scroll back to top of page to
continue reading ....
A Dixie Farewell: The
Life and Death of Chuck Mullins
Archie Manning and a young Peyton stop by at an Ole Miss football
game to lend encouragement. At Chucky's left is Carver Phillips ...
After being airlifted to
Memphis, Chucky spent 114 days in the hospital, which included a five-hour
bone-graft operation to fuse his shattered vertebrae. Chucky also had
to undergo an emergency tracheotomy, a surgical procedure designed to help
him breathe. Due to the latter procedure, Chucky was unable to speak
for three months. Mullins made significant progress, although he
never re-gained feeling below his neck. In February 1990, he was
transferred to Birmingham for rehabilitation. The goal of the
rehabilitation was to help Chucky adjust to a new way of life and assist him
to reach his goal of returning to Ole Miss to get his degree. While
Chucky was undergoing rehabilitation, head football coach Billy Brewer was
making plans for his return. Brewer arranged for students to assist
Chucky to class and he coordinated special requirements with the
faculty. On June 20, 1990, Chucky returned to Oxford to purse his
The State Unites for
The State of
Mississippi, other SEC schools, and the Nation rallied to support
Chucky. More than $1 million was raised in a matter of months to pay
for medical care for Chucky, including the building of a special house to
meet his needs. Fellow students assisted Chucky to class when he
re-enrolled after his injury ...
Chucky was amassing staggering
medical bills associated with his injury. The University's
catastrophic insurance policy provided $2 million in coverage or six months
of care, whichever came first. Chucky's guardians did not have money
or insurance. To help offset the medical expenses, the University
established the Chucky Mullins Trust Fund less than a week after the
injury. Against LSU that week, 42,354 fans turned out as the Rebels
hit the field with Mullins' number 38 on the side of each helmet. In
the stands, "We Love Chucky" buttons were distributed to
fans. Fans from both schools donated a stunning $178,168 that day and
another $53,395 was received in the mail for a total of $231,563 contributed
during the first week. Eventually, the fund exceeded $1 million.
The city of Oxford donated land for a home to be built for Chucky and his
guardians at a cost of over $70,000. The house was specially designed for
Chucky. Not only did people within the state contribute, but other SEC
schools as well.
On May 1, 1991, Chucky was
getting dressed to attend class when he suddenly collapsed. He had
stopped breathing and his nurse and Carver Phillips frantically called for
an ambulance. Paramedics arrived and took over administering CPR as
Chucky was rushed to the Oxford hospital and then to Memphis. Chucky
had suffered a blot clot because of inactivity and poor circulation which
traveled into his lungs and blocked his breathing. After five days,
Chucky died on Monday, May 6th, at 2:35 with a football cradled in his
arm. Brad Gaines was at his bedside when Chucky died. A memorial
service was held at Ole Miss and on May 11th, funeral services for Chucky
were held at Russellville Middle School gymnasium. Chucky was buried
outside Russellville in a small cemetery. Brad Gaines visits Chucky's grave
three times a year: Christmas, May 6th, and October 28th.
Roy Lee "Chucky" Mullins
July 8, 1969-May 6, 1991
Brad Gaines (top
right) and members of the Ole Miss football team file past Chucky's
casket. Gaines attended the funeral as a member of the Ole Miss
football team. Head football coach Billy Brewer told Gaines,
"Today, you are an Ole Miss Rebel"
Chucky Mullins Courage Award
Although he's gone, Chucky Mullins continues to live in
the hearts of Ole Miss fans as his No. 38 remains in the football program
through the "Chucky Mullins Courage Award." Established in 1990 by
the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, the award is presented each spring to a top
defensive player, who then has the honor of wearing Chucky's number the
following season. Previous awards have gone to Chris Mitchell (1990), Jeff
Carter (1991), Trea Southerland (1992), Johnny Dixon (1993), Alundis Brice
(1994), Michael Lowery (1995), Derek Jones (1996), Nate Wayne (1997), and
Gary Thigpen (1998), Ronnie Heard (1999), Anthony Magee (2000), Kevin
Thomas (2001), Lanier Gothie (2002), and Jamil Northcutt (2003), Eric Oliver (2004), and Kelvin Robinson (2005).
for this tribute was taken from A Dixie Farewell: The Life and Death of
Chucky Mullins by Larry Woody. OMSN is interested in documenting
material on the Internet about Chucky Mullins' life and tragic
death. If you have any material you would like to either donate or
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