Kenneth Grace took his place among the best athletes in the history of Southern University.
Grace, a Leesville resident, was inducted into the Southern University Sports Hall of Fame last year after a successful athletic career.

"It was amazing," he said. "It was a blessing and a tremendous uplift to my life to hear that I was being considered for that. I had no idea that it would be happening for me. I give God all the glory for that blessing.

"I was definitely shocked and surprised, most of all. I wasn't thinking that I would even receive such an honor. When I got down there, they gave me first-class treatment."

Grace graduated in 1969 and was a standout in the pool – competing in swimming, water polo and diving during his time in college.

He set two records at Southern, including highest points scored in 1-meter diving and set a school record in 3-meter diving.

"I competed at different schools across the country," Grace said. "I met some tremendous guys all across the country.

"One day, I ended up doing really, really good and established the record on the 3-meter diving board that still stands today."

After being inducted, the name Kenneth R. Grace stands along side some of the greatest athletes the country has seen – Lou Brock, William Davenport, Rob Wilburn, Mel Blount and Avery Johnson. 

Grace originally wanted to play baseball at Southern but literally heard the call to the water

"I was on my way to sign up for baseball when I heard them swimming and diving in the pool," he said. "It was a two-story building in the gym. I met the coach, and he said that they were having swim practice. He asked if I wanted to participate, and I said yes. He told me to go back and get my trunks. They put me on a swim program my first year, and in the second year, they put me on a scholarship. It was a tremendous experience."

Grace is originally from Oakdale, Louisiana, and following his time at Southern, he saw the country.

He worked for the Boys Scouts in San Francisco, then the United Way in Sacramento before coming back to southwest Louisiana. 

He worked at Fort Polk and retired after working in the Causality Operation Center. Now, at the age of 71, Grace still works in the community and teaches swimming at Fort Polk.

"I'm a Godly man, and it wasn't all about swimming going into the Hall of Fame," he said. "Mainly, it was about how you live your life and what you have done to help others. To sum everything up, I'm a man from a poor area in Oakdale, Louisiana, and I was blessed with the opportunities to get out into the world and help other people. The main thing was about doing for others and trying to keep myself up in the community. Basically, that's what I did and what I've been doing."