Lenox Rawlings enters the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame with fondest memories of his parents, who provided him with an endless stream of books, magazines and newspapers, and his paternal grandfather, who exposed him to New York newspapers and the superbly chosen words of acclaimed sportswriter Red Smith. He recalls with gratitude the athletes, coaches and personalities about whom he has written, and fellow members of the sportswriting fraternity, including 1977 inductee Dick Herbert of The News & Observer, his first sports editor.
The inductee is the son of the late Gloria Thompson Rawlings and Lenox D. Rawlings Jr. He was born in 1950 in Rocky Mount and grew up in Wilson. He is a 1968 graduate of Fike High School, where he was a member of the basketball team, and a 1972 graduate of the University of North Carolina, where he majored in journalism.
Rawlings is best known as a sports columnist for the Winston-Salem Journal, a position he held from 1978 until his retirement in December 2012. He covered all of the big events – Masters, Olympics, World Series, U.S. Open golf, NCAA Final Four, ACC Tournament, Daytona 500, Appalachian State’s three national football championships – and quite possibly was the only sportswriter in attendance when both Hank Aaron (1974) and Barry Bonds (2007) broke baseball’s all-time home run record.
In addition to The News & Observer, Rawlings worked for The Wilson Daily Times, the Greensboro Daily News and the Atlanta Constitution before joining the Winston-Salem Journal as a political reporter in 1976. Two years later his life and career changed forever when he moved over to the sports department, made his permanent home in Greensboro, married Janice Johnson Karabin and became a step-father to her daughter, Jennifer, and her son, Barak.
Rawlings flourished in his newfound role as a sports columnist, earning numerous awards from the N.C. Press Association and, more importantly, the respect and admiration of his peers. “Lenox did things the right way,” said longtime Winston-Salem Journal sportswriter Dan Collins. “He was never a bully, but he was fearless. If a question needed to be asked, Lenox was the guy who asked it.”
Wilt Browning, a N.C. Sports Hall of Fame member and former sports columnist, called on Rawlings to write the chapter on auto racing for “Nothing Finer,” a history of North Carolina sports published last year. “The English language is a marvelous thing because its lexicon contains the exact words writers need at exactly the time they need them,” Browning said. “No one in the newspaper business in North Carolina ever mastered the written word in that regard more successfully than Lenox did.”
Rawlings was honored three times as N.C. Sportswriter of the Year and in 2013 received the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Marvin “Skeeter” Francis Award for his coverage of the league. He is a past president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and 2013 inductee of the USBWA Hall of Fame and the Fike High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
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