KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville man is making his permanent mark on the city. A road built at the new First Creek at Austin development will be known as “Elston Turner Drive.”
State, city leaders, loved ones, and classmates gathered Monday to recognize Elston Turner Sr., during a special ceremony.
One man said, “We called him ET, and that was before the movie.”
“Just to see everybody come together like this and I’m telling you I’m blown away by the honor,” said Turner.
Turner has been working in professional basketball for about 40 years as a player and coach. Right now, he’s an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He said, “I’ve been away for a while, everything is so different from what I remember.”
And what a lot of Knoxvillians remember is how good Turner was while playing on the Austin-East basketball team.
“Back then, Austin-East has this little cracker box gym that couldn’t hold us so we held our games at the Civic Coliseum. Think about that. The Civic Coliseum would be full to the rafters,” recalled State Rep. Sam McKenzie.
In 1977, Turner and the Road Runners won the class AAA state championship. Several people at Monday’s ceremony reminisced about those good old days.
“Class of ’77 is awesome, awesome,” exclaimed Juanita Cannon, a former teacher of Turner’s.
As Turner played through college at Ole Miss and the professional leagues, he says he never forgot about his roots.
He said, “I just wanted to make my family proud and come back, come back home and serve my community with my time and teaching.”
Many people believe Turner is a true servant as he has helped support many East Knoxville projects over the years and now his name is being enshrined on a street forever.
“Normally it doesn’t happen period but on top of that usually it happens when someone passes away so you’re not really able to enjoy experiencing it. So, it’s given me an unforgettable memory and man, I’m happy,” said Turner.
Just about every year, Turner hosts a basketball camp in Knoxville with Christian-based Emerald Youth Foundation. We’ll let you know when registration opens for the summer.