Written by Corbett Smith
Longtime Roosevelt boys basketball coach Ellis Davis dies; 'He was more than just a coach,' ex-SMU star Ira Terrell says
Ellis Davis, Jr. demanded excellence from his basketball players, both on and off the court.
Long before the Texas Legislature enacted “No Pass, No Play,” that was Davis’ policy.
“His students meant everything to him,” said his wife Betty Joe Davis. “He was just like a father figure. Kids were always first with him.”
Davis, 81, died Wednesday. Services will be at noon Saturday at Good Street Baptist Church. He will be interred 9 a.m. Monday at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
After serving in the Army, Davis taught and coached at the elementary and middle-school level before becoming Roosevelt’s first basketball coach in 1963.
At his retirement in 1986, Davis’ time at Roosevelt was legendary, going 641-128 in 23 seasons and making the state tournament twice. His 1972 team – featuring future SMU star Ira Terrell – won the Class 4A UIL title, the first in a decade for Dallas ISD. Roosevelt still holds the UIL’s scoring record at the state tournament with 111 points in the 1972 semifinal.
Terrell called Davis “the kind of guy you’d want to run through a wall for.”
“He was more than just a coach,” Terrell said. “He meant so much more: a personal friend, a mentor.”
Davis received numerous honors for his teaching and coaching careers. His name graces the Ellis Davis Classic basketball showcase as well as DISD’s premier basketball gym, and he was named to the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 in an induction class with baseball Hall Of Famer Ernie Banks.
“It’s quite an honor to have this while you can still see it,” Davis told the Dallas Morning News in 2001. “It’s quite a blessing.”
Davis was married to Betty for 55 years. The couple was setup on a date by fellow Good Street member and Dallas ISD administrator B.E. Dade. At the time Ellis was working on Dade’s staff at Paul L. Dunbar Elementary while Betty was a student at Prairie View A&M.
Besides his wife, Davis is survived by sons Dennis Ellis and Rodney Ellis, daughter Mariette Spates, five grandchildren, five goddaughters and his extended family.