Texoma remembers the life of basketball Olympian, Jerry Shipp
DURANT, Okla. (KXII) - A Texoma Olympic gold medalist passed away this week. How the community is remembering Jerry Shipp.
A Southeastern legend, orphan to Olympian Jerry Shipp passed away this week at the age of 86. He’s remembered for his determination, humility and his passion for coaching.
Born in a ditch in Shreveport, Jerry was given up to Tipton Children’s home because his mother fell ill with tuberculosis. He was there from ages 4 to 16. A story his daughter Shannon Cooper recalls hearing growing up was a turning point for his future.
“He noticed and thought to himself well nobody cares, I don’t have any parents. And right then and there he said ‘I care,’ and he said I’m gonna make a difference one day, you know help children, help them care,” said Cooper.
He was adopted by the Shipp family in Blue, where he began his basketball career. From there he was recruited by coach Bloomer Sullivan at Southeastern, was an All-American for 4 years, then went on to play for Phillips 66.
“He tried out for the Olympics in 1960 and was first alternate. That frustrated him and made him mad because he was quite the competitor,” said Cooper.
Shipp tried again 4 years later, and was named captain of Team USA when he became an Olympic gold medalist. His medal is on display at his home, Bloomer Sullivan Arena at SOSU, where his legacy will live on.
“You didn’t have to go from a big university, a big fancy college to be successful in what you really wanted to achieve. You can come from Blue, Bokchito, Achille and still be successful in your dreams,” said Cooper.
Athletic Director Keith Baxter said Shipp visited SOSU as often as he could and inspires current and future Southeastern athletes with his story.
“You know it’s easy to read all the stories and read all the press clippings and things like that but what resonated with me about Jerry is that he was such a humble person,” said Baxter.
“All of his life he’s wanted to know and meet his birth mother. So now where he’s at hopefully she was waiting with open arms,” said Cooper.
Shipp’s family is in the process of making funeral arrangements.
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