Written by Brandon George
Legendary former South Oak Cliff track coach Boston Grant dies at 87
Legendary former track and field coach Boston Grant, who treated his athletes like his own children and traveled the nation attending meets well into his 80s, died Sunday in Grand Prairie. He was 87.
Born May 3, 1924 in San Marcos, Grant coached track and field for 36 years and was best known for his time leading the South Oak Cliff program from 1972 to 1986.
At SOC, Grant coached four athletes to individual state championships and two 4x400 relay teams to state titles in 1981 and 1982. Grant’s 1982 South Oak Cliff team, led by eventual NFL and SMU football player Roderick Jones, won the Class 5A state title with 50 points.
In his high school career, Grant produced 70 All-Americans and was named coach of the year 16 times. In 1999, Grant was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame and the Prairie View Athletic Hall of Fame.
Grant was so consumed with track and field that he traveled to Austin in early April to attend the Texas Relays, where up until last year he helped officiate the meet. After his return, his health declined and he was hospitalized.
“Everywhere we went, everyone knew him,” said Michael Grant, one of four sons. “His friends called him Hawk. Most kids called him ‘Dad.’”
Grant retired from full-time teaching in 1986 but became the sprint coach at SMU in 1988. Two years later, he held the same position at North Texas.
While he was at SOC, Grant’s teams were rivals of Roosevelt. Earnest James coached Roosevelt from 1963 to 2006 and was a close friend. The two traveled to three Olympic Trials together and shared a room when they spent the night.
“We were great rivals but just as great of friends. People just thought we were at each other’s throat, and we would talk smack before these NBA and NFL stars ever thought about it, but we couldn’t wait until after the track meet to go hang out together,” James said. “And if you wanted to go to the state meet in Austin, you had to deal with him.
“You never found anybody who didn’t like him or love him. He’s very well-respected. I learned a great deal from him, even how to cook.”
Grant graduated high school in San Marcos at 15. He went on to serve as a medic in the Army in the mid-1940s. Upon his return, Grant received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Education from Prairie View A&M University in 1950 and his Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from Prairie View in 1973.
Grant began his coaching career in Grand Prairie at Dalworth, an all-black high school before the Grand Prairie ISD integrated Dalworth into Grand Prairie High School in 1966. Grant led Dalworth to Prairie View Interscholastic League 2A track and field state titles in 1965 and 1966.
Grant coached several future NFL players, including Dalworth-ex Charley Taylor, a former Washington Redskins wide receiver who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
Grant is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dorothy Jean Grant of Grand Prairie; son Michael and daughter-in-law Sharon of Carrollton; son Charles of Grand Prairie; son Reginald of San Antonio, and three grandchildren. Grant was preceded in death by son Boston and daughter Phyllis.
A wake will be from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. Thursday at Black and Clark Funeral Home in Dallas. The funeral is 1 p.m. Friday at Good Street Baptist Church in Dallas. A burial will follow at Laurel Land Memorial Park in Dallas.