LEON WHITE

HELIX HIGH

1981

A former strong safety at Helix High School, Leon was a charter member of the very first Secret Society: The Secret Society of the Tiger Paw. An impact player on both sides of the line of scrimmage, Leon led Helix to two CIF Championships including a 12-0 season in1980. Leon was one of the most dominating players in the San Diego Section and left his mark on the Helix record book. His most notable defensive feats were the 85 defensive points that he scored against Morse High School in a CIF quarterfinals game and his 693 career defensive points total.

Leonís maturity and willingness to make self-sacrifices was evidenced by his decision to accept a scholarship to play at Brigham Young University. Being a black student-athlete in a predominantly white student body was a tremendous challenge for a young man who had spent his entire life in a diverse urban metropolis like San Diego. At that time BYU had fewer than 50 black students on a campus that numbered in the thousands. Leon knew that he was entering a football program that at that time was dominating WAC football and that he would be working with one of the top coaching staffs in the country. His academics and football came first. His endearing personality and his ability to forge friendships with all people made him one of the most popular players in Provo Utah.

Leon went on to become an All-Conference linebacker at BYU. The crowning moment of his college career came on December 21, 1984 when he helped lead the BYU Cougars to a 13-0 season and the National Championship with a 24-17 victory over the University of Michigan in the Holiday Bowl. Leon was voted the gameís most valuable player making nine tackles and recording two quarterback sacks. What wasnít widely known was that Leon was playing the game in front of his terminally ill father. Wanting to see his son play for the last time, Mr. White agreed to be brought to the stadium where he watched the game from a bed that had been placed on a sideline platform. Notwithstanding the emotional impact of the moment, Leon played the game of his life and gave his father a special gift that he took home with him that evening. Mr. White died soon thereafter, but he died knowing that he had raised a son that not only was a good football player, but a courageous individual that others could look to for inspiration and encouragement In 2001 Leon was selected to the Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame.

In l986 the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Leon in the 5th round.  Making the ball club as a standout special teams player, Leon moved into the starting lineup in1988. He responded with a stellar season recording 59 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He helped lead a great Bengal team to the Super Bowl where the Bengals lost one of the most memorable games in NFL Championship history to San Francisco on Joe Montanaís last minute drive. Leon went on to become one of the most consistent and reliable defenders in Bengal history .

As a player Leon was never too busy to come to schools and speak with young people about making the right decisions in sports and life. In retirement he continues to work with young people through various local agencies. Leon lives in San Diego with his wife Betty and two children. For his unselfish attitude and commitment to family, friends and children and for being a positive role model every moment of his life the Star Chamber is proud to recognize Leon in the Star Chamber Gallery of Stars.

Up Down