Walter 'Buddy' Davis
Jan. 5, 1931 - Nov. 16, 2020 Nederland, TX
Walter “Buddy” Davis overcame tremendous obstacles to become a world-class athlete. Both of his legs and his right arm were paralyzed from polio when he was a child. He was unable to walk for three years but eventually recovered.
Entering Nederland High School in 1944, Davis lettered as a forward in basketball. Standing 6’7” as a junior, he was the team’s starting center. Growing another inch by the time he was a senior, he tallied more than 60% of his team’s points, producing 648 in 21 games. Davis was a three-time All-District player.
He also participated in track, winning the high jump at a district track meet with a leap of 5’8”, without the benefit of any previous practice. As a senior, he won district with a six-foot leap and the regional meet with a jump of 6’ 1 ½”. He passed up the state track meet to play baseball on a team that won the district title.
Davis enrolled at Texas A&M in 1948 on a basketball scholarship. He led the freshman basketball team in scoring with 162 points in 12 games. In his first varsity season, he scored 237 points. He also led the nation in fouls, collecting 101 in 24 games.
Buddy set numerous high jump records. As a college senior, he set a Texas Relays record by clearing 6’9”, tied for the NCAA title at 6’8”, and set a new Amature Athletic Union mark at 6’10 ½”. Davis then won the gold medal in the 1952 Olympics at Helsinki, Finland, with a record-setting leap of 6 feet, 8.32 inches.
The Philadelphia Warriors selected Davis in the second round of the 1952 NBA Draft. He spent five seasons with the Warriors and St. Louis Hawks, averaging 4.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Davis was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1964 and into the Texas Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016. He is also a member of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Sports Hall of Fame.