Once more in one month, the grim reaper has visited the hallowed campus of Atlanta’s Morehouse College. On May 7, political science guru Dr. Tobe Johnson (class of 1954) graduated to his heavenly reward. And now, 22 days later, Friday, May 29, 21-year basketball head coaching legend Grady Lewis Brewer earned his wings following an undisclosed illness. He was 63.
Homegoing arrangements had not been finalized as of the writing of this article June 1.
A native of the Atlanta, Brewer played for the Astros of Frederick Douglass High school of northwest Atlanta under the watchful, strict but fair eye of coaching legend Donald Dollar (uncle of mega-minister Creflo Dollar. Interestingly, years later Dollar was an assistant coach under Brewer at Morehouse) Graduating in 1980, he fulfilled one of his wishes to attend Morehouse. Thanks, in great measure, to his father and former Morehouse College sports information director and coach James “Jimmy” Nix, he attended and played four years under Morehouse coach, the late Arthur McAfee. After graduation in 1980, Brewer was hired as a firefighter with the Atlanta Fire Department. He spent over 20 years there and his work schedule also allowed him time to as an assistant under McAfee. He also helped McAfee with recruiting. One his finds came from his high school alma mater. Harold Ellis, a 6-5 shooting guard but seemingly ignored by most college scouts, caught Brewer’s attention. His sharp eye paid off for the Maroon Tigers. Ellis, also a native son, was signed and played four years from 1988 to 1992. In 1990, Ellis helped lead Morehouse to the NCAA Division II hoop playoffs’ final four in Springfield, Massachusetts but lost 85-60 to Cal State-Bakersfield.
After college, Ellis coached in the Continental Basketball League eight seasons, played two years in Europe, worked in the front office of the Orlando Magic and later was director of player personnel for the New York Knicks. Brewers’ recruit is now a pro scout for the Detroit Pistons.
On January 25, 2020, the school retired Ellis’s number 30 during Harold Ellis day at Morehouse’s Frank Forbes Arena.
News of Brewer’s demise spread rapidly across the country, Georgia and the city of Atlanta. Roderick Stubbs, head basketball coach and athletic director at Oxford College, a two-year school of Emory University in Oxford, Georgia, was one of Brewer’s assistant coaches at Morehouse College for many years. “He thought so much of his student-athletes and his staff. He was a groomsman at my wedding. He was my boss but he was also a mentor, a teacher and my friend. When he moved up to head coach, he reached down and pulled a lot of us up with him.” He was like a son to me,” said Nix. “You could always count on him. “He could take less but get the most out of his players,” added another longtime assistant coach Douglas Augusta, who was also a co-worker with Brewer at the fire department. They both retired from the department together. “He never let anything stop him from looking out for the welfare of his players or us as coaches. I can’t think of anybody I would rather work with than Brew. He was the best.”
Brewer is survived by his wife Loletta, and three sons, Ryan a Morehouse grad (class of 2010), Xavier, a junior on the current Morehouse basketball team and Jordan.