By T. Scott Boatright
The late Eddie Robinson, legendary football coach at Grambling State University once had a motto: “One job, one school, one wife.”
Just maybe, the phrase “one assistant should have been added.
Former longtime Grambling assistant coach Melvin Lee, a walk-on for the Tiger football team in 1952, met a lasting friend and mentor in Robinson.
Lee, who served as a cornerstone for Robinson, passed away Thursday in Shreveport.
Lee played both ways for Grambling — as center and linebacker, despite only weighing 195 pounds.
And in 1955, Lee played a crucial role in Grambling earning its first black college national championship.
After serving in the Army and working as a cement finisher in New Orleans, Lee returned to Grambling at Robinson’s request in 1960 to serve as offensive coordinator, a role he held until 1997.
That’s 37 years of guidance during Grambling’s greatest football heyday.
“Melvin Lee was an important and crucial part of Grambling College and later State University,” said Hall of Fame baseball coach and former GSU associate athletics director Wilbert Ellis. “He and his wife Pauline are in all of our prayers.”
Robinson could be a fiery, emotional coach. That wasn’t Lee.
“They called him ‘Silent Lee’ .. never raised his voice,” Williams said. “Coach Rob was famous for the ‘Wing T’ offense. And with that offense, you have to get the blocking down. That’s
the greatness Melvin Lee brought to Grambling. He knew it inside and out.
For Eddie Robinson III, Lee and his wife Pauline were more family than friend.
“Coach and Miss Pauline, they’re like my aunt and uncle,” Robinson III said. “I didn’t see it coming. A lot of people didn’t realize, he didn’t only build great offenses. He was a great builder and contractor. He was doing ‘Do-It-It Yourself’ projects all the time. … Always working …. always a force.”
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