ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The 2019 Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame class has been inducted. Four new members join 74 previously inducted members in this elite honor. They are the best of the best from athletes to broadcasters, and everywhere in between.
This year’s class includes a former Atlanta Falcon, a former coach and current executive director of the Corky Kell Classic, a five-time Paralympian, and a sports broadcaster. All are legends and all will remain vested in the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame.
FOX 5 Sports Director Ken Rodriguez had the honor to host Friday night's event.
Here is a look at each of the 2019 inductees:
Buddy Curry | Atlanta Falcons (1980-1987)
George Jessel "Buddy" Curry was born up the road in Greenville, North Carolina and attended the University North Carolina.
He was picked 36 in the second round of the draft in 1980 and quickly earned a reputation on the field. That reputation earned him the NFL Rookie of the Year, an honor he shared with fellow Atlanta linebacker Al Richardson.
Curry went on to be a two-time All-Pro selection in 1980 and 1982.
In his third season with the Falcons, Curry made 229 tackles, a record which stands today.
Falcons fans during the '80s might remember Curry from an infamous blocked field goal against the Rams in 1986.
Today, the 60-year-old Curry enjoys seeing his sons carry on playing on the gridiron.
Dave Hunter | Brookwood HS (1987-2006) | Corky Kell Classic (1991-present)
Dave Hunter started coaching in 1983 with Peachtree but earned a statewide reputation at the helm of the Brookwood High School football program.
His personal victories at Brookwood include being the first Gwinnett County school to beach Clarke Central in 1987 and coming back at the end of the 1996 season to beat Valdosta High School for the state title after previously falling to them at the start of the season during that year’s Corky Kell Classic. That was the first time his team would also be featured on statewide TV.
Hunter has been active in the Georgia High School Association serving on various committees over the past 25 years.
He has been inducted to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame and was part of the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame 2013 Class.
Since retiring from coaching, Hunter has turned most of his attention to the Corky Kell Classic, which pits the best of best against each other, becoming the unofficial start of the high school football season. In addition to picking the teams, Hunter has expanded its viewership and reach by working to broadcast the games on Fox SportSouth.
Ernie Johnson, Jr. | Atlanta TV (1982-1989) | Atlanta Braves (1993-1996) | Turner Sports (1989-present)
Ernest Thorwald Johnson Jr. is the son of MLB pitcher and Atlanta Braves play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson Sr., so sports and sports broadcasting is in his blood.
Johnson is easily found these days contributing to MLB, NBA, and NCAA broadcasts on various networks.
He was bitten by the broadcasting bug at the University of Georgia when he took over as a news and sports director at WAGQ-FM in Athens. After graduating in 1978, he began working at a series of television stations in Macon, Spartanburg, South Carolina and finally settling in Atlanta in 1982.
But he answered the call of network TV in 1989 joining Turner Sports. In 1993, he joined his father calling Braves games for three years. In the '90s, Hunter also joined the NBA on TNT coverage.
Hunter has multiple Emmys for his various work in broadcasting.
His voice has also been immortalized on several NBA video games produced E/A sports.
The 62-year-old Atlanta native and Marist graduate continues to work hard despite some recent health issues which have prompted him to take things a little more in stride.
Curtis Lovejoy | 5x USA Paralympian (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, & 2012)
There is nothing that Curtis Lovejoy can't do. He was left paralyzed from the neck down at age 29 after a car accident, but that hasn't stopped the 61-year-old athlete.
Lovejoy took up swimming in 1986 as a form of therapy, despite his fear of water. That led him to begin a multi-decade career competing worldwide in 1993.
The Atlanta-area native made his first appearance in the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta. He set a World Record in 50-meter breaststroke, won gold in the 50-meter backstroke, and also took home a silver medal.
In 2000, he would win gold in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, and set five Paralympic and World records. Four years later, two more golds, a silver, and a bronze.
In between, a series of victories in international competitions too long to list.
In 2013, he turned his attention also to wheelchair fencing, becoming a two-sport competitor.
Lovejoy continues to compete and plans to attend the 2020 Paralympic in Tokyo.
Back in Atlanta, the Morris Brown College graduate is a coach to young swimmers at the Shepherd Centre, which specializes in spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation.
In 2013, he was inducted into the Georgia Aquatics Hall of Fame and was presented with the Dixie Wheelchair Athletics Lifetime Achievement Award.
To this day, he is the most accomplished Paralympian in U.S. history.
Congratulations to the Class of 2019!