TAMPA — Claybra Selmon never complained about her husband's frantic schedule. There was always somewhere else to go, something more to do, usually for the benefit of others.
Lee Roy Selmon didn't have much free time, even though Tampa Bay is better for his efforts.
"There were so many times when I sat at home or was waiting for him to come back or … he couldn't promise me my Friday night date because he was going to go to some charity (event)," Claybra Selmon said Friday, roughly 13 months after Lee Roy's death at age 56. "I often wondered if people appreciated what he was doing."
She no longer has doubts.
On Friday, the gratitude of the community was reinforced as a resolution honoring the Hall of Famer, former Bucs defensive end and community pioneer was celebrated at One Buc Place. The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. James Grant, marks today as Lee Roy Selmon Day in Florida.
Community and business leaders also gathered to celebrate the launch of a mentorship program affiliated with Lee Roy Selmon's restaurants and the University of South Florida, targeting student-athletes.
"It's bittersweet," Claybra Selmon said, "but mostly sweet."
She and others felt that way not only because Lee Roy was being honored, but because an effort was being made in his name to do what he had made his mission: helping others.
"We know how important this was to Lee Roy and his family," Bob Basham, owner of the restaurant chain, said of the mentorship program. "By all of us supporting it we can ensure that Lee Roy's legacy will live on."
Selmon died Sept. 4, 2011, days after suffering a stroke. The former defensive end eventually became USF's athletic director and fundraiser at the school after his playing career. He also worked ceaselessly on behalf of many others in big and small ways, right up until his death.
His widow challenged others to do the same.
"Because of his faith, he was a man who knew he was an eternal being, and he had an assignment to complete while he was here in this place," Claybra said. "And 58 years ago, that work began. A little more than a year ago, he finished his assignment, and he got excellent marks. I hope that we can all now consider that each of us has an assignment and (ask) how are we doing with our assignment? What kind of marks will we get?
"I hope we'll all work hard on getting good marks."