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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 5

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Page 17 of 92

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED OLUME 26, ISSUE 5 18 But that is only part of the story. Steele liked the performance so much that when he was married later that summer, he asked Parker to sing at his wedding. Parker, who had just completed an All- Big Ten-caliber sophomore season, graciously accepted and was a huge hit at the ceremony. Like so many of Parker's deeds, it made a lasting im- pact. Fast-forward 25 years when Steele was about to cel- ebrate his silver wedding anniversary. Steele was look- ing to recreate that special moment, so he called Parker to ask for another favor. Could Parker recreate the mag- ical moment? Even if it was over the phone? The problem: Parker was in the middle of contract negotiations for one of his top clients, future Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. The stakes were high as it was the last big contract of Smith's illustrious 15-year NFL career. "I called (Parker) at about 3 p.m., not having a clue what was on his schedule," Steele recalled. "And at 9 o'clock, there was Eugene calling back to serenade San- dy. He nailed that just as he did 25 years earlier. "If you needed him, he was there. Plain and simple." As a player, Parker was a four-year starter on some of the most exciting, yet exasperating, teams in Boiler- maker basketball history. As a left-hander with a high-arching shot from deep, Parker would have benefitted from the three-point line that didn't come into play until several years after his eligibility was exhausted. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore in 1976, and, for his ca- reer, he scored 1,430 points, which ranks him 22nd all- time at Purdue. As a freshman, he was part of the famed yet political- ly incorrect — in 2016 terms — "Soul Patrol" to start off the season. Parker, Jordan, Wayne Walls and White (all African-Americans) joined former walk-on senior guard Satterfield coming off the bench in unison to in- ject energy on the court for Fred Schaus' 1974-75 squad. The quintet became huge fan favorites in Mackey Are- na. Parker built his reputation for honesty on the basket- ball court. "There were always lots of arguments in pick-up games, but when Eugene would say the score was 4-4, the arguments ceased," Jordan said. "He had that un- derstated effect on everyone." Jordan and Parker go way back to their Fort Wayne roots. Jordan was the high-profile recruit, winning the state championship his senior year at Northrop High School while Parker toiled at smaller Concordia. Jor- dan was a standout on the Indiana All-Star team, while Parker was overlooked. "I may have had more fanfare as a player, but I looked up to Eugene as a player because he was that good," said Jordan, who still ranks eighth all-time in Purdue scoring. "But the lesson he taught me about life far ex- ceeds that. "He did two things you rarely see anymore. First, he remained committed through college to his high school girlfriend, June, married her and raised an incredi- ble family of four children. Second, he turned down a chance to go to the NBA (after being drafted by the San Antonio Spurs) and decided to go to law school and play for Athletes in Action. People should never forget Gene was a great basketball player at Purdue. He could shoot it and do all the things that a guy with an NBA future could do. "What kind of guy does that? He was an agent to some great athletes

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