Grambling basketball legend Bob Hopkins remembered

Bob Hopkins, a basketball legend at Grambling State University who was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall f Fame in 1978, died May 19 at the age of 80.  He suffered from heart and kidney disease.

A Jonesboro native, Hopkins is survived by his wife of 57 years, Beverly, and children Marilyn, Lynnetta, Debbie and Bob Jr., along with four grandchildren and a great-grandchild. 

Robert "Bob" Hopkins

He is notable known for scoring 3,759 points during his playing career at Grambling College (1952-1956). Hopkins has scored the second-most points in college basketball history. In the 1956 NBA Draft, the Syracuse Nationals selected him in the 10th round.  

During his time at Grambling, former sports information director, Collie J. Nicholson, gave Hopkins the nickname “Li’l Abner” in his press releases.

 “Bob was an extraordinary player and also a good coach,” said Aaron James, a professor at Grambling and former New Orleans Jazz player. “He touched a lot of young men’s lives.”

James added that Hopkins has “the utmost respect” from people at Xavier University of Louisiana. He first met Hopkins as a little boy when he used to go to Xavier to play basketball. Hopkins was the head coach at Xavier from 1969 to 1974.

“For me, growing up a New Orleans boy, Bob was always willing to teach young people things he knew about the game, and I knew quite a bit about basketball just from being around Bob Hopkins,” said James.

Hopkins also served as head coach at other universities, including Grambling, Southern, Prairie View, Alcorn and Maryland-Eastern Shore. His college coaching career lasted for 17 years.

During his coaching career at Grambling, Hopkins led the Tigers to the Southwestern Athletic Conference championships in the 1986-1987 and 1988-1989 seasons.

File photos
Bob Hopkins (right) chats with a classmate before heading to class. 

In 1974, Hopkins went back to the NBA as an assistant coach with the Seattle SuperSonics. He later served as head coach for the 1977-1978 season for 22 games. 

Hopkins retired from coaching in 1991.

Over the years, Hopkins has been honored for his extraordinary talent. In 2013, he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

Interim athletic director Dr. Obadiah Simmons considers Hopkins a Grambling great.

“It’s certainly a loss of one of Grambling’s legends,” said Simmons. “He had such an outstanding career here at Grambling.”

While at Grambling, Hopkins averaged 29.8 points and 17 rebounds. He led the Tigers to two Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and was twice named National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American.