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Ron Bradley named to national hall of fame

Gwinnett Daily Post File Photo. Former Newton County High School coach Ron Bradley, who has collected 1,372 basketball victories in his 50-plus-year career, will be inducted this morning into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Dalton.

Gwinnett Daily Post File Photo. Former Newton County High School coach Ron Bradley, who has collected 1,372 basketball victories in his 50-plus-year career, will be inducted this morning into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Dalton.

When legendary coach Ron Bradley learned of his most recent hall of fame induction, it couldn't have come at a better time.

Bradley, who retired in 2010 after 53 years of teaching and coaching, on Wednesday was named one of 12 inductees into the National High School Hall of Fame. The 30th Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held July 11 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.

"(GHSA executive director Ralph) Dr. Swearingin called me and said the National High School Hall of Fame was trying to reach me," Bradley said on Wednesday afternoon. "They finally got me when I was on the golf course. It was quite a thrill to get the news because I wasn't playing very good at the time."

Last July, Bradley was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and he already holds membership in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. He is also one of only five coaches to receive the GACA's Circle of Achievement Award.

"It's very special," Bradley said of his latest honor. "It means a lot of youngsters worked really hard that enabled us to have an honor like that. When you look at the people who are in there, from Tom Landry to Herschel Walker, it's really something to have your name mentioned in there with those kind of people."

Bradley is only the second basketball coach from Georgia to be honored by the National Federation of High Schools.

"The other basketball coach who was inducted coached in the '20s and 30s," Bradley said. "And there are only three football coaches from Georgia there. It's very humbling when you realize the magnitude of this honor."

In his lengthy career which began at Newton County in 1957 Bradley coached boys basketball, girls basketball, football, baseball, golf and track. His greatest accomplishments, however, came as a boys basketball coach, where he amassed more than 1,000 coaching victories (the eighth-most in history as recorded by the NFHS).

In his tenure at eight different schools (which included two residencies at Newton and stops at Loganville, Heritage, Greater Atlanta Christian and George Walton Academy), Bradley collected 1,372 basketball victories, three state championships, 29 20-or-more win seasons, 17 region championships and six state final appearances.

Besides the positive outlook he exuded for his students and players, Bradley is beloved in the east metro area for the 129 straight home-court victories the Newton County Rams earned over a nine-year stretch.

"My son Bill recently won his 400th game in Colorado and we were out there for it, and you watch and realize that with everything involved in coaching, it's amazing I lasted 50 years," he said. "I look back and I can't believe 50 years went that fast. You have to do the best you can to help those young people be as good as they want to be. Those years just fly by, and we certainly realize we're standing on their shoulders."

If there was such a thing as a spouse's hall of fame, Bradley's better half, Jan, would be a unanimous selection. Of the nearly 2,000 basketball games Bradley coached, Jan has missed but five, and he said a friend recently estimated that "Jan and I had been around the world three times in a yellow bus."

He added that early in his career, the death of one of his players Billy Dean Rutledge in 1959 helped point the couple in the direction they'd follow for the rest of their lives.

"When I think of what she's contributed, she's obviously a major part of all this," Bradley said. "There were so many things that happened in the first couple of years in my career that influenced my career, and one of those things was when we suffered the loss of Billy Dean. Jan knew then that she'd never complain again about the time I was spending with young people. She's been a tremendous support and without that, I couldn't have lasted as long as I have."

For those with the time and the interest (and the time!), Bradley's children gave him his own website for Christmas that shares virtually every detail of his professional life. The Bradley story can be accessed at www.coachronaldbradley.com.