PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Although he played college football at LSU and professional ball for the Denver Broncos, for Gene Lang, it all started at Pass Christian High School.
On Wednesday, he returned for a special dedication.
"You are always going to be part of the Pass High community. And we are always going to claim you," said Athletic Director Wayne Kennedy. "And it's an honor for you to be here today."
Once a Pirate, always a Pirate, but not every Pirate has his football jersey retired in the trophy case. The high school dedicated a replacement jersey since the original was lost in Katrina.
"I just want to say to all of our student athletes, I hope you really listened to what Coach Kennedy said. Because Mr. Lang was a student athlete. Had the opportunity to play at LSU, and I believe was on the All-SEC academic team," said Principal Robyn Killebrew.
As he was honored by students and staff, the former Pirate also presented a one-of-a-kind gift.
"I wore this in the '87 Super Bowl against the Redskins, and it's one of my most prized possessions," said Lang as he held a Denver Broncos football helmet, "But, I thought I'd just bring it here and donate it to the school so that everybody can see what's possible if you believe."
Even though the young people weren't born when Lang was dodging tackles in the NFL, the inspiring words of the 54 year old are ageless.
"We want all our kids to emulate what Gene stands for. And it's great to have him back here," said football coach, Casey Wittmann.
The school thanked their hometown hero and made a promise.
"We do thank you Mr. Lang for this wonderful, wonderful gift," said Beth John, superintendent. "And we promise, if we ever evacuate, this gift will go with us."
Lang now lives in the Denver area, where he's a successful businessman. He encouraged the young athletes to set goals, dream big and focus on their studies.