Charlie “Tinky” Leigh was one of the team members.
Unfortunately, Leigh passed away almost seven years ago due to cancer and the first African Ameri-can to skip college and go straight to the NFL never had the chance to meet the first African-American president.
“My father made history in 1968 by becoming the first African American to go straight to the pros from high school,” Charles Leigh Jr. said. “My father didn’t know he did that. He only knew he was the third person in the world to do so.”
(Researcher, historian and author Zellie Rainey Orr informed the Leigh family about this informa-tion.)
Leigh played running back and returned kicks for the Dolphins from 1971-74.
“He was an asset to the team,” said Leigh’s wife of 42 years Marie Leigh. “Don Shula new every time my husband got on the field he was going to make something happen.”
“Each team had to have 13 black players in order to play,” Leigh Jr. said. “If you were one of the 13 you earned your way. My father told me ‘I was just glad to be there. I come from nothing. They didn’t ever have to play me.’ But he did play. He did make contributions. He did do what he was supposed to do.”
Mrs. Leigh and her son are cur-rently south Fulton residents. They were very ecstatic to hear that the 1972 team and Charlie Leigh’s legacy would finally be honored at the White House, but also extremely disappointed when they were rudely told by the Dolphins Alumni Asso-ciation that surviving family mem-bers or wives could not represent deceased players.
“When you have a member who is deceased that means the wife is supposed to represent him,” Leigh Jr. said. “We go to all the reunions.”
“I’ve been there the whole time,” Marie Leigh said. “So you are saying because he’s dead that is it.”
The Leighs said a biography of Charlie Leigh’s life is being written. Leigh Jr. also produced The Hum-ble Rise of Charlie Leigh, which can be found on YouTube.