Remembering a Michiana legend: Ed Ehlers - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Remembering a Michiana legend: Ed Ehlers

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Before guys like Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson chose to play two sports professionally, there was Ed Ehlers.

"He was a real exceptional athlete," said Ed's son Tom. "Coach [John] Wooden had said many times that he was one of the better athletes he'd ever coached."

Ed Ehlers was arguably one of the greatest athletes to ever come through Michiana. He was a star player on a South Bend Central basketball team coached by John Wooden. In college he played three sports at Purdue.

And get this, he was good enough to get drafted to play pro-football, basketball, and baseball.

"He just loved to play games," said Tom. "He was by far the most competitive person in my whole lifetime that I have ever run across. He was always competing at everything. I don't care if it was just playing cards, he was a competitor."

He played basketball for the Boston Celtics and spent a few years playing minor league baseball.

After he retired from sports Ed focused on his family, but he couldn't help pass on his competitive edge to his son Tom, who also wound up in the pros. Tom says his dad didn't push him hard, but he did instill the lessons to become a great football player.

"Sports is a great teacher of life," said Tom, who played in the NFL for the Eagles and Bills. "It's not all about just winning and losing. It's about the lessons that you learn from being on a team and preparation for competing. How you compete and how you conduct yourself."

Neither guy ever lost their love for sports. Tom says even later on in life, his dad was always looking for the next competition.

"As adults we rode across Iowa in what is running this week called the Ragbrai," said Tom. "It's a bicycle ride across the state. I got it for him when he was 70 and he want to do it five more times. I rode with him every time and he was just a very young man for a long time."

Ed passed away just one month ago and family says he had an athlete's spirit all the way to the end.

"He said to me one day I'm preparing for my death just like it's another ball game," said Tom. "It was a good life. If I should be so fortunate to live this way on the way out I won't be as reluctant to grow old."

Ed Ehlers was elected into the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980.

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