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Vanderbilt basketball great Perry Wallace dead at 69

Wallace was the first African-American basketball player in Southeastern Conference history.

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Sad news: Perry Wallace, who became the first African-American varsity basketball player in Southeastern Conference history when he took the floor for the Vanderbilt Commodores on December 2, 1967, died on Friday at the age of 69.

A 6’5” forward from Nashville’s Pearl High School, Wallace played three seasons for the Commodores, graduating in 1970 with a degree in engineering. On the court, Wallace scored 1,010 points and grabbed 894 rebounds; the latter mark still ranks second in Vanderbilt history. Wallace never played in the NBA, but he earned a law degree from Columbia University and later became a law professor.

The story of Wallace breaking the color barrier in the SEC has been told countless times, and probably far better than I can. In his honor, Vanderbilt would eventually retire his Number 25, one of just two former Commodores to be so honored (Clyde Lee is the other.)

We offer our thoughts and prayers to the Wallace family. Anchor Down for eternity, Perry.