Remembering Scott Davis, Ypsi’s All-American boy

Every high school, every community, had its All-American boy. For Ypsilanti in the 1970s, that was Scott Davis.

Incredible athlete who was not just good at every sport, but great. Movie-star good looks. Captain of every team. Scott Davis was all of that. Everybody in Ypsilanti knew him, loved him, wanted to be like him.

So it was devastating to all of us when we found out earlier this week that Scott had passed away of a heart attack.

No way. No way he was gone. Not Scott Davis. Scott Davis was going to live forever.

It’s always incredibly sad when you lose a friend and classmate, but when it’s somebody like Scott – your high school’s All-American boy – it seems to touch everyone. And as things happen these days, Facebook allows us all to share the sad news and grieve together.

And when the news of Scott’s passing started to spread among the Ypsilanti community this week, the outpouring of grief on Facebook was overwhelming.

“Stunningly sad news.”

“I am flooded with memories of the neighborhood, and in every one, I picture Scott smiling. My heart goes out to the entire Davis family.”

“Scott’s friendship was a bright spot in my high school life. He was genuine and easy to smile. My condolences to all the family and friends who will miss him dearly.”

Scott graduated from Ypsi High in 1977, and I was a year behind him, in the Class of 1978. I knew him enough to say hi, but I was much better friends with his brother, Jeff, who was in my class. They also had a younger sister, Jamie, who was a couple years behind us.

Like every All-American boy, Scott was a multi-sport athlete, but his best sports were basketball and football. Especially football. He played quarterback (of course), and he was one of the greatest athletes that school has ever produced – and that’s saying a lot.

In the fall of 1976, his senior year, Scott had an incredible season on the gridiron, leading the Braves to an almost perfect record (I think we only lost one game). That whole team was excellent; his favorite receiving target was a guy in my class named Rodney Holman, a tight end who went on to have a long NFL career playing for the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.

College football recruiting was nowhere close to what it is now, but Scott had the college coaches drooling back then. Bo Schembechler himself, coach of the Michigan Wolverines, even came to the Ypsi High football banquet that year, just to spend some time around Scott.

That winter, Scott played in what is still one of the most famous basketball games in Ypsilanti High School history. In the Class A quarterfinals, Ypsi matched up against Lansing Everett, which had some guy named Magic Johnson on the team.

The game took place on March 17, 1977, at Jackson Parkside High School, and I remember driving through a huge snowstorm with some friends to attend the game.

Scott drew the assignment of guarding Magic for much of the game, and well, it didn’t go so well. Everett hammered us, 86-57, and I remember coming away from that game thinking I had just seen the greatest high school basketball player of all time.

But no matter. Football was going to be Scott Davis’ sport going forward. And I remember that it was something of a shocker to everyone when he announced that he was going to be staying home to play his college ball at Eastern Michigan University.

People were saying this was probably EMU’s biggest recruiting coup of all time. Scott Davis was one of Ypsi’s most celebrated athletes ever, and the Hurons were able to keep him home. This was huge for EMU. Ypsi folks were thrilled they’d get to see him play his college ball just down the street.

Scott Davis (9) in the huddle as Eastern Michigan University’s quarterback.

Scott played QB for the next four years at EMU – mostly as the starter – but alas, the teams he played on were awful (six wins total over his four years). Despite playing on really bad teams, he still managed to put up some excellent individual stats that rank among the best in school history, throwing for 3,398 yards and 13 touchdowns over his career.

And with every passing yard and every touchdown, everyone in Ypsilanti took pride in what Scott Davis was doing.

I’ve seen his brother a few times over the years, but I can’t remember the last time I saw Scott. He moved to Colorado and had a great career working for Lockheed Martin, and I know he still kept in touch with a bunch of his old Ypsi friends. We were Facebook friends, and it was always great every time you’d see a photo of Scott Davis pop up. Still that same megawatt smile he had back in high school.

I’ve been reading through all the Facebook comments, and it’s truly heartbreaking to see how deeply we’re all feeling this loss. We just lost our quarterback, our star, our All-American. It doesn’t seem possible.

And here’s the other thing that’s coming through as you read those comments. It’s something we knew to be true back then, and is coming through loud and clear as people remember him: Scott Davis was nice to everyone he met.

Scott Davis in a recent photo on Facebook.

Not just nice; genuinely nice. He was the most popular guy in school by a mile, and in the movies, that kind of guy usually turns out to be a jerk.

Scott Davis was not a jerk. He was a great, great guy. He always had time for everyone, always had a smile for everyone, always made you feel better just for being around him.

And that, my friends, is because of parenting. Scott grew up in a working-class family on the east side of Ypsilanti, and his parents, Jim and Carol, raised their children right. The Davises were the nicest, most polite, most respectful kids we had in our town. That didn’t happen by accident.

There was a great community outpouring of support two years ago when Jim passed away. And now the family has to deal with the loss of Scott, and I can’t imagine the heartbreak they’re feeling.

I hope they take solace in knowing that their boy Scott was the best we ever had, in every way. May God bless and keep him.

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