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A Halo For A Helmet: The Whole Story Of Ernie Davis Paperback – October 22, 2008


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A Halo For A Helmet: The Whole Story Of Ernie Davis + Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express, the Story of a Heisman Trophy Winner-Anniversary Edition + The Express: The Ernie Davis Story
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440439303
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440439308
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,339,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Author, K. Coralee Burch, Syracuse U. '64, also Ph. D., published extensively articles for magazines. While working on an article celebrating the Ernie Davis and the Heisman Trophy, she made a lifelong commitment to tell Ernie's entire story. She is an artist, writer, college professor and owner of a winery. The following is part of her introduction to the book about Ernie: We were terribly proud of our high school, EFA, Elmira Free Academy. We knew from the beginning we were really special, but it was Ernie Davis who brought it home to us. I was of the class of 1960 and Ernie was of the class of 1958. His was the only class that didn't have a Burch in it the year I was a freshman. My sisters and I always attracted a crowd that year, three girls in high school all together, freshman, sophomore and senior. The boys (and girls) knew they could come to our house and always find a welcome, not just from us, but from our Mom and Dad who had brought us up with as much love and as little prejudice as was possible in that post World War II era. My older sister and brother were both married with children at that time. My sophomore year I made cheerleader, the year that Ernie led EFA to the state basketball championship. When I went to practice in our small school gymnasium, Ernie was always there, before all the others, shooting baskets. He would call me over and teach me to shoot baskets. There was no one in that school or that city who did not believe that Ernie was their special friend just as I had. And it was this quality about Ernie, not the fact that he was one of the greatest athletes to live, nor the fact that he was the first Black to win the Heisman Trophy, nor the sad fact that he died shortly afterward of acute leukemia, that he remained in the hearts and minds of all who had had that one moment of contact with him. That moment left a burning vibrant impression, bringing tears to their eyes 10 years after his death of 1963. I was at Syracuse University the year Ernie died. He was on campus just weeks before his death and still took the time to single people out and make them feel special.

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Customer Reviews

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I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this subject.
Heather Lana
During a Monday night game this season, ESPN did a story on Ernie Davis and I was fascinated.
Author
The conversation style of the book makes it flow like a novel, so it is a very quick read.
PrincetonCuse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By 1detailer on October 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just finished a Halo for a Helmet and it was great to say the least. The 35 year effort Coralee put in on the book certainly paid off. It's too bad that the producers of the movie "The Elmira Express" took so many liberties with the truth. It was an insult to this great man and his achievements on and off the field. Sometimes just the truth is more exciting and interesting than the made up drama that so many movies portray.

I did not know Ernie personally, however, I do remember him in the halls of EFA and especially remember the pep rally in the cafeteria with the cheerleaders standing on the tables leading the rally. Those were heady times and some of the best of my life. I went to several of the football games and remember some of the fantastic runs that he made.

Thanks to Coralee for giving us a great story and the "true" life story of a great man.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "Mugsie" on November 10, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a story that has been waiting to be told for 40+ years. It is both historically accurate and emotionally authentic. It touches the soul of a young man who, with a strong body and a gentle heart, changed the world around him. I know, because I went to highschool (EFA) and college (Syracuse University) with him. Like all those he came in contact with, and as a young white woman in the 50's, I was so proud to call him friend.
"Mugsie"
A Halo for a Helmet: The Whole Story of Ernie Davis
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on October 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
The legend of Ernie Davis came to life through the recent movie, The Express. Writer K. Coralee Burch sifts through the artistic license of the film to deliver an excellent biography of "The Elmira Express," that relies on more than 35 years of research, interviews and delving into a wealth of historical archives.

And for Burch, her foundation for the book starts at Elmira Free Academy, where she was in the class of 1960 and Davis was two years ahead of her, but had already forged a path of athletic excellence and a reputation for being an outstanding role model. As a sophomore, Burch was a cheerleader and saw the generosity of Davis; while both were waiting for practice to start - Davis was a star basketball player - he would teach her how to shoot a basketball.

"There was no one in that school or that city who did not believe that Ernie was their special friend just like I had," Burch writes.

The gridiron exploits of Davis at Syracuse University are legendary and it culminated with being awarded the 1961 Heisman Trophy, the first African-American to achieve that lofty honor. Drafted by the Washington Redskins, but traded to the Cleveland Browns, Davis never played a down in pro football, being diagnosed with leukemia in 1962 and losing his battle to that form of cancer in May 1963 at the age of 24.

"I was at Syracuse University the year Ernie died," writes Burch. "He was on campus just weeks before his death and still took the time to single people out and make them feel special."

Burch goes the extra yards and strikes pay dirt by meticulously telling the rest of the story of a remarkable life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ginger Cat on February 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've just finished reading A Halo for a Helmet and even though I knew the outcome, I cried. This is a testament to the wonderful story-telling ability of K. Coralee Burch.

Once you start reading, it's hard to put the book down.

She makes the characters come alive and paints a true picture of the times during which Ernie Davis lived and how he handled the prejudice he encountered. As someone who also grew up during that time period, it all rang true to me. It would have been an honor to have known him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DaKu on June 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
"A Halo For A Helmet: The Whole Story of Ernie Davis" by Coralee Burch, is a must read for anyone familiar with the life of the legendary football player. Ernie Davis was recently brought back to the public's memory with a feature film on his life that came out a few years ago, and other books have been written by him, but Dr. Burch's book on Mr. Davis offers the reader a unique point of view, backed up by years of research and interviews with those who knew him best. Although Ernie Davis may be remembered most as the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner, his legend has now reached almost mythical proportions. But the story that "A Halo For A Helmet" tells is not only about an exceptional athlete whose life was cut short by a dreaded blood disorder, but more importantly it documents the incredibly special human being the man was. In stark contrast to the self-centered and narcissistic athletes we find in the sports world today (both at the collegiate and professional levels), Ernie Davis is remembered as a humble and deeply caring person who had a very special quality as a man. Dr. Burch conveys Ernie's consistent warmth and caring towards others throughout the book, and it is those qualities which those who loved him seem to remember most. "A Halo For A Helmet" was obviously a long time labor of love for the author, and the sincerity of her passion for keeping Ernie's memory alive is a wonderful testament to what kind of effect Mr. Davis had on her, and so many others who were blessed to have met and known him. This is a heartwarming book recommended to all (not just sports lovers).
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