Later this month, Greg Lasker will be honored with the 2019 Elijah Pitts Award for career athletic achievement by a Conway sports figure.
Lasker graduated from Conway High in 1982 and became an All-Southwest Conference safety for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The New York Giants selected him in the second round of the 1986 NFL draft. He won a Super Bowl ring his rookie season.
This award is named in honor of Elijah Pitts, who graduated from Conway’s old segregated Pine Street High School in 1957.
Pitts then played football at Philander Smith College in Little Rock.
In the 1961 NFL draft, Pitts was chosen in the 13th round by Green Bay.
A running back, he played for Vince Lombardi’s Packer dynasty of the 1960’s, winning five NFL championships, and the first two Super Bowls.
Pitts rushed for two touchdowns in that first Super Bowl.
In 1979, he was inducted into the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame, and then into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame the following year.
Pitts passed away in 1998 at the age of 60.
Back in his days as a Pine Street Polar Bear, one of Pitts’ classmates, teammates and friends was a guy named Vernon Lasker.
Vernon is Greg Lasker’s father.
Vernon is still living in Conway and will be at the banquet to watch his son receive this award named for his old friend.
Pitts’ son Ron played football at UCLA.
A defensive back, he was selected in the seventh round of the 1985 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. He later played for Green Bay from 1988-1990.
In 1969, Elijah Pitts led Green Bay in punt returns. In 1988, the Packer’s punt return leader was Ron Pitts.
That is likely the only occurrence in NFL history where a father and son have led the same team in the same statistical category.
In 1987, Pitts was playing for Buffalo and Lasker was playing for New York. The teams met in October.
However, the two young men would not have a chance to play on the same field, as that season the NFL players went on strike for a few weeks.
The league played those games anyway, including this one, using mostly replacement players, so neither Pitts not Lasker suited up.
The Arkansas State Press was a weekly African-American newspaper run by Little Rock civil rights icons L.C. and Daisy Bates.
The following is from the October 26, 1956 edition of their paper.
“The (Coleman) Blue Jays’ quarterback passed to the end on the 10-yard line. Elijah Pitts, 165 (pound) speedster intercepted the ball in front of good blocking raced 90 yards to score to only have it cut in half.
The ball was spotted on the 45-yard line where the Bears drove to the one-yard line on a series of running plays with Sylvester Hoskins, Elijah Pitts, Vernon Lasker carrying the ball to the one-yard line on the next play, (Bobby) Spann was in for the 3rd and last touchdown. The extra point was made by Vernon Lasker. Score Bears 19; Blue Jays 0.” The Elijah Pitts Award, as well as several others, will be presented Jan. 26 at a noon luncheon at CBC’s Mabee Student Center.
Tickets are $30 and available by calling (501) 269-0412.