Oct. 1, 2004
By Wes Durham, “Voice of the Jackets”
There are very few athletic figures at any school who can make an impression over more than just one generation, but Kim King is clearly one who has had an influence on generations of Yellow Jackets in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
Early this past summer, news circulated that Kim had returned to Little Rock, Arkansas for treatment on his second bout with cancer. In 1999, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, for which he gained remission just over a year later. This time the opponent was leukemia, and his fight is again inspiring.
In July, athletic director Dave Braine crafted the idea to name the football locker room in King’s honor. At the time, it was very emotional, because we knew Kim was really battling this disease, but Braine also knew it was important that Tech do something to permanently honor a man who had been such a fixture of Rambling Wreck football for so long.
It was my honor to visit Kim in Little Rock and ask him if this would be okay. A few tears were shed that day and I think he and his family were overwhelmed with the honor that his alma mater would be presenting.
Kim King has been a constant with Georgia Tech football since he set foot on the campus as a freshman in the fall of 1964. There were memorable games and noted performances at quarterback in the final two seasons of Bobby Dodd and the first year of Bud Carson’s tenure as head coach. It was in that era that another legend, radio announcer Al Ciraldo, dubbed King, “the young left-hander.” Little did Ciraldo or King know at the time, but the tag has stood the test of time, to the point where King’s grandchildren will soon know how many first met their “Papa”.
A “Tech Man” is more than just the football player, he’s also the graduate and then he’s the example which others follow as they move into their professional and personal lives. Going to school and playing football at Georgia Tech requires balance, organization and discipline. That foundation was put in place not long after the sport was started on the campus. Heisman, Alexander and Dodd built championship teams on that premise, knowing that you might not have the strongest and the fastest, but you need the man who wants it the most and is tough enough to compete for it.
While Kim King’s football career ended nearly 40 years ago, that competitive edge and toughness help him measurably in the business world to this day. These qualities have also helped him continue to serve Tech in various roles. Whether it was work with fund-raising or the idea to make the Edge Athletic Center a reality, King has been a driving force behind several projects to help Georgia Tech continue to be one of the nation’s top research and technological institutes in the country, while also competing at the highest level of collegiate athletics.
In 1974, he joined Ciraldo in the radio booth and has been a fixture since. Whether it was the frozen tundra of Colorado Springs in 1978, for Eddie Lee Ivery’s 356 yards, or “The Catch” by Kerry Watkins in 2000, at Clemson, King has had one of the best seats in the house for many of Tech’s finest football moments. From his radio work, thousands of Tech fans who never saw him take a snap on Grant Field now know how big an inspiration he has been to the Yellow Jackets.
If you factor in the games he played for Tech, the dozens he went to growing up in Atlanta and the more than 300 games he has helped broadcast…Kim King has seen nearly a third of every Georgia Tech football game ever played.
His guidance with football players has been important as well. Many players have sought his advice on career decisions and entrance into the business world as their graduation approached. King’s success in commercial real estate and development in Atlanta has been admired for many years. Last summer, he was named by Georgia Trend magazine as their “Most Respected CEO” for 2004.
Since coming to Tech in 1995, I have developed a close friendship with my broadcast partner. Five years ago when he first battled this disease, I got to see first hand the same qualities that Coach Dodd and fans saw in the ’60’s at quarterback. That toughness was just another wrinkle to the competitive nature I had seen once or twice before on the golf course with bragging rights at stake. This time, though, it was for real.
Kim has an outstanding support system in his personal life. He would tell you that his biggest fans and supporters have been his wife, Gail, and their children, Beau, Angela and Abby. His business partners at Kim King and Associates know it takes a team effort to be successful in so many different operations, no different than the basic lessons he got when playing for Coach Dodd.
It all ties together for a remarkable honor today that will now be a permanent way to recognize a gentleman who has been such an important part of Georgia Tech football.
It is storybook stuff, really. A legacy that was crafted shortly after he first arrived on campus, filled with determination and perseverance on the football field, with a competitive edge and enduring loyalty added in. I guess those are the ingredients of a “Tech Man”.
A figure associated with Georgia Tech football for almost 40 years now will be the example that every Tech football player will recognize from now on…before every practice and every game.
Please Note Tech fans can view photos of the Kim King ceremony, as well as from the Friday reception in honor of Kim, here beginning next Tuesday.