Clyde Lee’s emergence as the biggest thing in the Nashville sports scene had little to do with his 6-foot-9 frame.
It was his outsized accomplishments as a basketball player, first at David Lipscomb High School and particularly at Vanderbilt University, that established him as a legend at a time when major professional sports belonged primarily to the country’s largest cities.
Known as “Colossal Clyde,” he set a then-Vanderbilt all-time record of 1,691 points in three seasons (freshmen were ineligible in the 1960s) and led the Commodores to an SEC championship in 1964-65, when he won the first of his back-to-back SEC Player of the Year honors.
For his career he averaged 21.4 points and 15.5 rebounds per game, and he led the conference in rebounding three straight seasons. He was a consensus All-American as a senior and the third overall pick by the San Francisco Warriors in the 1966 NBA Draft.
Following a 10-year pro career, Lee returned to Nashville, where he lives today with his wife Gail, and in 2008 he was named a member of Vanderbilt’s inaugural athletics hall of fame class.