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Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center

Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center
Opens at Jackson State University

Walter Payton’s mother nearly cried when she first entered the new recreation center bearing her late son’s name.

“It’s so beautiful and wonderful that they would honor him like this,” Alyne Payton said. “I thought it would happen, but I never expected anything like this. That’s what’s so breathtaking about it.”

The $12.3 million Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center opened in February at Jackson State University, as the centerpiece of a $25 million complex named after the school’s most famous alumnus.
A native of Columbia, Miss., Payton starred at Jackson State in the early 1970s and played 13 years with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, retiring after the 1987 season. The Hall of Fame running back died of cancer in 1999 at age 45.

“[The center] is a tribute to a life that meant so much to this community and this university,” said Eddie Payton, Walter’s older brother and the golf coach at Jackson State.

Some of the estimated 200 attendees at the ribbon cutting ceremony came wearing retro Jackson State football jerseys with Payton’s number, 34.

The building houses three basketball courts, three racquetball courts, three aerobics studios, a squash court and dozens of exercise bikes and weights. School officials say Jackson State is the first historically Black college or university to open such a center.

Associated Press

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