KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — He grew up here in Knoxville, played football for the University of Tennessee, then moved away and became an entrepreneur and dad to 8 children.

Stephen Davis continues to have a big impact in Knoxville and is receiving a Father’s Day award this weekend.

Davis went to school in Bearden, played baseball as a child, then football for the University of Tennessee in the late 1970s.

Davis says Knoxville and a loving family gave him a firm foundation for success in life. 

“To go on later and play football for the University of Tennessee on scholarship, graduate there and have an opportunity to move to Chicago with General Electric, start my own company. Knoxville you know, I pay homage and respect,” he said.

In 1986, Davis founded a business to honor the legacy of his father.

Davis says, “Everything I say and do I try to honor him. Our company is named the Will Group and it’s named after my dad, William Davis.”

While the majority of his life has been spent outside of Knoxville, he’s never lost touch of where he is from.

“I have lived in Chicago for about 38 almost 40 years but I’ve never gotten Knoxville out of me,” he said.

Davis has a footprint as an investor and he is part of the management team for the downtown Smokies ballpark set to open in 2025. Selected by Randy Boyd as President of Gem Community Development Group to ensure East Knoxville benefits from the project.

Davis is also credited with creating the Tuskegee Next Program designed to foster careers in aviation for inner-city kids. An important opportunity inspired once again by his father who served as a navy cook in World War Two and talked with pride about the Tuskegee Airmen.

“One of the things my dad taught me is always kind of leave it better than you found it and that’s what we try to do,” Davis said.

Davis and three other outstanding men in their fields and as fathers will be honored on Sunday by the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and the Beta Theta Boule Foundation in a special luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.