One of the Sun City’s best high school football players from the 1980s received a new honor on Wednesday night. Former Irvin Rockets star and Dallas Cowboys receiver Billy Davis was officially inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame. Davis was one of eight new inductees into the Hall of Fame that were recognized at the Price’s El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet on Wednesday night in Sunland Park, New Mexico.
“It’s an honor. It truly is,” said Davis following a press conference on Tuesday, “Being from where I’m from to where I’m at, it’s just amazing. When you prepare right, opportunities open themselves and having that good foundation built here in El Paso from the people really goes a long way.”
In his acceptance speech on Wednesday, Davis spoke briefly about the many people who impacted his life from his parents, family and friends. But, there was one person that stuck out in his mind from his time growing up in Northeast El Paso: longtime Irvin head coach Tony Shaw a man that Davis says changed everything for him.
“He’s the reason I’m here in a lot of ways,” Davis said of his high school coach. “He went out of his way to make a way for me.”
After starting as a defensive back for the Rockets and later to quarterback his senior season, Davis was a standout who got his big break thanks to Coach Shaw. When Texas A&M and Pittsburgh came to El Paso to play in the 1989 Sun Bowl, Shaw gave the coaching staffs from both teams film on his star athlete.
Fast forward a short time after and Davis had a full scholarship offer from the Pitt Panthers, where he would finish fifth in school history in receiving yards. Offers started coming in from across the country, but it was that encounter in the Sun Bowl that Davis credits for changing his life.
“It seemed like it was overnight,” Davis said, “He was the ultimate epitome of a high school coach. For him to go talk to those guys and resonate with them and my talent supporting what he had to say, it really opened up a lot of doors for me.”
Doors would continue to open on Davis’s journey, but not as easily as they did for some. Davis signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys and was part of the last Super Bowl champion team in 1996. He became known as a star-special teams player and also won another Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000.
After a seven year NFL career, Davis moved on to his next chapter of life and currently resides in the Dallas area working in the medical supply industry.
Even after his time at Irvin, Davis continued to be a role model in the area, particularly for one recent El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame inductee in Ed Stansbury. The former Irvin Rocket, UCLA Bruin and Houston Texans fullback was a 2015 inductee who nominated Davis credits Davis for being an inspiration to him and many others in Northeast El Paso.
“Billy was at Irvin just when I was getting into middle school,” Stansbury said, “He represented my dream as a kid and he was the one that I wanted to be like. I wanted to be the next Billy Davis. Growing up in the Northeast was hard and for him to make it out and be successful, he was someone I wanted to emulate.”
Davis spoke at Irvin in December 2015 as part of an NFL celebration of Super Bowl 50 telling students that they could accomplish anything and they have to do whatever it takes to end up on their feet. Davis has done just that and concluded his acceptance speech with gratitude towards his first home.
“Even with all the accolades,” he said, “I’ll continue to represent El Paso and I continue to have the city in my heart.”
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