Larry Little heard the doubters early in his football career.
From his high school days at Booker T. Washington through the early years of his professional career, the thought of coaches, teammates and outsiders telling him he wouldn’t make it resonated in his mind.
They fueled the future Miami Dolphins Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman.
On Wednesday, more than 35 years since he played his final snap for the Dolphins, Little earned another honor for his career as part of the Hometown Hall of Famer program.
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“I wouldn’t quit because I knew I wanted to be a professional football player,” Little, donning a gold Hall of Fame jacket, said to a crowd of about 400 inside the Booker T. Washington High School auditorium.
In addition to students and faculty members from the high school, among those in attendance Wednesday included Little’s teammates from high school, college and the NFL; players he coached at Bethune-Cookman; and his family, including his 96-year-old mother, Ida Little.
“I’m so happy to be here for my son,” Ida Little said. “He’s a good kid.”
Said Larry: “She was there for me when I was inducted in 1993, and by the grace of God she’s still here with me today.”
An undrafted free agent out of Bethune-Cookman in the 1967 NFL/AFL Draft, Little spent two years with the San Diego Chargers before being traded to the Dolphins. He spent the rest of his 14-year career in Miami, during which time the offensive lineman paved the way for running backs including Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick. The Dolphins won two Super Bowls with Little on the roster — including Super Bowl VII to cap off the 1972 Perfect Season. In his career, Little earned six All-Pro recognitions and landed five Pro Bowl nods before retiring in 1980. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Little said, “but I’m here.”
Along with being named a Hometown Hall of Famer, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Ford Motor Company presented Little with a plaque, which will remain on display at the high school.
“He’s a local legend,” said Patrick O’Neill, Miami’s regional manager for Ford Motor Company. “So to be part of this and for this to be a part of his school, it’s very important to us, but more importantly it’s about giving back to the community.”
Little said he hopes the plaque will serve as a reminder of perseverance for future generations of students.
“A lot of times people don’t believe in you,” Little said. “But as long as if you believe in yourself, you can do something.”