Billy Cannon’s name, his image, and his remarkable athletic career serve as emblems for Louisiana State University, the Southeastern Conference, and college football. LSU’s only Heisman Trophy winner, Cannon led the Tigers to a national championship in 1958, igniting a love of the game in Louisiana and establishing a tradition of greatness at LSU.
But like many stories of lionized athletes who rise to the status of legend, there was a fall—and in the case of Billy Cannon, also redemption. For the first time, Charles N. deGravelles reveals in full the thrilling highs and unexpected lows of Cannon’s life, in Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run.
Through conversations with Cannon, deGravelles follows the athlete-turned-reformer from his boyhood in a working-class Baton Rouge neighborhood to his sudden rush of fame as the leading high school running back in the country. Personal and previously unpublished stories about Cannon’s glory days at LSU and his stellar but controversial career in the pros, as well as details of his indictment for counterfeiting and his post-release work as staff dentist at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, unfold in a riveting biography characterized by uncanny success, deep internal struggles, and a champion’s spirit that pushed through it all.
Charles N. deGravelles spent over twenty-five years ministering to the inmates of Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, including the men on death row. A deacon and teacher living in Baton Rouge, deGravelles has published in literary journals and anthologies nationwide.
Praise for Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run
“For those who love stories of people who’ve risen, fallen, and then found redemption, the story of former Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon is just the ticket.”—Christian Science Monitor
“Must reading if you are an LSU Fan. . . . It tells the good, the bad, and the in-between.”—Jordy Hultberg, 103.7
“This is about Billy Cannon — good, bad and in between. And, the more the pages turn, it’s the honesty of the book that stands out. For this, both the author and the subject deserve a lot of credit. . . . . This is a long-overdue look at one of Baton Rouge’s and the sporting world’s most enigmatic characters. Honestly.”—Baton Rouge Advocate