University of Miami

Former football standout Sean Taylor set to join UM Sports Hall of Fame

Sean Taylor, who won a national title with UM in 2001, was selected fifth overall by the Washington Redskins in the 2004 NFL Draft.
Sean Taylor, who won a national title with UM in 2001, was selected fifth overall by the Washington Redskins in the 2004 NFL Draft. Getty Images

He was inducted into Miami Gulliver Prep’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008, and less than a year later, honored again as Gulliver named its football field Sean Taylor Memorial Field.

He was inducted into the Washington Redskins’ Ring of Fame in 2008, becoming the 43rd Redskin to receive the distinction for distinguished contributions.

Sean Taylor’s next great honor will come at Jungle Island on Thursday night, when he is inducted posthumously with another impressive University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame class.

The hard-hitting safety died of massive blood loss at age 24 after being shot by an intruder in his Palmetto Bay home in November 2007. He would have turned 32 on April 1.

“Just to hear that his college has recognized him is awesome,’’ said Pedro “Pete” Taylor, Sean’s father, who serves as the police chief of Florida City and will receive the award for his son. “Sean would have been elated. When the University of Miami opened their doors to him, they let a young kid with big dreams become part of their family.

“I’m truly grateful, and he would have been, too.’’

Taylor (2000-03 letterman), who won a national title with the Canes in 2001, was selected fifth overall by the Redskins in the 2004 NFL Draft and led the NFL with five interceptions at the time of his death. At UM, he led the nation with 10 interceptions in 2003 on his way to becoming a consensus All-American and Jim Thorpe Award finalist. He joins a star-studded class that includes his UM teammate, linebacker great Jonathan Vilma (2000-03); and one of the most respected former Miami offensive coordinators (after winning two national titles as a player), current Indianapolis Colts associate head coach Rob Chudzinski (1996-2003 coaching).

Fellow football greats Kevin Patrick (1990-93) and Rusty Medearis (1990-92, 94), both defensive ends; and linebacker Winston Moss (1983-86), who played defensive end during his early career, will be inducted, joining baseball star Alex Fernandez (1989), Kym Hope (basketball) and Chris Mantilla (diving).

Not to be outdone, Olympic great Lauryn Williams, one of the Hurricanes’ most decorated athletes of all time, will be enshrined Thursday.

Williams (2001-04), a nine-time All-American, won the 100-meter NCAA national title in 2004 and left UM with seven school records. She went on to win the Olympic silver in the 100 meters at Athens in 2004, the Olympic gold in the 400-meter relay in London and the silver in the two-woman bobsled last year in Sochi – becoming the first American woman to capture medals in both the summer and winter Olympics.

“The U is where it all started for me,’’ said Williams, who lives in Addison, Texas and has retired from competition. “I’m so grateful to the university for my whole career. It has been a very important part of me becoming who I am and grooming me to become this, I think, wonderful young lady – if I do say so myself.’’

Williams attended UM with Taylor, and said that one semester the two grabbed lunch weekly, usually at Dadeland Mall before their workouts.

“Sean was pretty goofy, but definitely not the flamboyant type,’’ she said. “More quiet than anything. We were teenagers, but we’d talk like old people who were so wise.’’

Former Canes running back Clinton Portis, who was inducted into the UM Hall last year, played with Taylor at Miami and Washington. He was thrilled when he learned Taylor would be inducted.

“Sean definitely deserves to be there,’’ Portis said. “He always wanted to be the best and that’s the way he played. It’s a huge honor for UM and his family.’’

Portis described Taylor as “humble and quiet,’’ and said if Taylor were alive, his induction speech would be brief. “A short ‘Thank you’ and ‘Glad you guys highlighted my career,’ would be about what you’d get,’’ Portis said.

“Me? I was like, ‘Let it be known!’ before it even happened.’’

▪ Individual tickets to the induction ceremony are sold out, but a small number of corporate tables ($1,000) that seat 10 guests are available. Call 305-284-2775.

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