SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse University will honor the legendary Floyd Little with a memorial service at Hendricks Chapel on Saturday, March 27 at 11 a.m.
Little, the versatile running back who starred at Syracuse and for the Denver Broncos, died in January after a long bout with cancer. He was 78.
The legend specifically requested his family and friends gather at the on-campus house of worship one last time in memory of his great love and the life they all shared together.
Little’s memorial service will be attended by a small gathering of family and invited guests only. It will be streamed live for the general public and media at www.cuse.com.
“This is a Homegoing Service for an amazing man. This is our collective opportunity to honor Floyd Little’s legacy of excellence, love and faith that he left for us all to remember and even to emulate,” said a spokesman for the Little Family.
Floyd D. Little Obituary
Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, Floyd Douglass Little, returned to the Lord on January 1, 2021. He passed away at in his home in Henderson, NV, with his wife DeBorah at his side. He is survived by his wife, DeBorah, who faithfully cared for Floyd in sickness and in health; his children Marc (and his wife Tegra), Christy (and her husband Adrian), and Kyra; his grandchildren AJ, Skye, Blaze, Hayes and Yakob; his sister Betty, several cousins, nieces, and nephews; Joyce Davis, the mother of his two daughters; and a host of friends, teammates and faithful fans who will miss him greatly.
Floyd Little was born on July 4, 1942 to Lula Mae Manning and Fredrick Douglas Little in Waterbury, CT. Floyd was the fifth of six children – Betty Mae, Rosalie, Fredrick Jerome (“Ranger”), Pricilla, and Charles Howard (“Gitty”). Floyd’s father passed away when he was six years old, leaving his mother to raise six children on her own. Floyd’s older sisters stepped in to help raise him and his younger brother Gitty. His oldest sister Betty ran everywhere, and Floyd would hold onto her dress to keep up. He attributed his running speed to keeping up with Betty.
When he was thirteen, Floyd’s family moved from Waterbury, Connecticut – his birthplace – to New Haven, Connecticut He attended Baldwin Elementary School, Troop Junior High School, and Hill House High School, where he became a High School All-American running back. After graduating from Hill House, Floyd was the first African American to attend and graduate from Bordentown Military Institute in Bordentown, New Jersey. This opened doors for him to continue his education and play football at the college level.
Floyd was offered 47 college football scholarships. He chose Syracuse University, keeping his promise to the late Ernie Davis, a Syracuse graduate and the first African American Heisman Trophy winner. Floyd proudly wore number 44 like Ernie Davis and his predecessor, Jim Brown, making him part of this historic Syracuse triumvirate. Floyd is the only three-time All-American running back to have played for the Syracuse University Orangemen.
Floyd graduated from Syracuse University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in History and Religion. He was drafted as a first-round draft pick for the Denver Broncos, where he played all nine seasons of his football career. Floyd earned the nickname “The Franchise” because his success kept the Broncos organization from relocating. While playing for the Broncos, he attended the University of Denver part time and graduated from the university’s law school with a master’s degree in legal administration. In 1975 Floyd retired as the NFL’s 7th all-time leading rusher with 6,323 yards rushing and 54 touchdowns. Floyd was the 257th player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August 2010.
After retiring from the Broncos, Floyd joined the Ford Motor Executive Management Training Program. He excelled in business, becoming a consultant and trainer for Ford’s Minority Dealer Association (FMMDA) and one of the most successful and well-respected Ford dealers in the industry, serving as president and owner of Pacific Coast Ford with dealerships in the Denver, Santa Barbara and Seattle areas. He retired from the auto industry in 2008. From 2011 until his retirement in 2016, Floyd acted as Special Assistant to the Athletic Director at Syracuse University, responsible for development and donor relations, recruitment and student-athlete and team development activities.
Floyd was inducted into 10 football Halls of Fame and received countless accolades, awards, trophies, and honors for his personal commitment to excellence, community service and helping others. He was a frequent keynote speaker at many events, especially the New Haven Grid Iron Club’s annual Floyd Little Scholarship fundraising event. He was a loyal celebrity guest at many charities and causes around the country. Floyd was particularly proud to support his college teammate’s annual Tom Coughlin Jay Fund fundraiser to raise money to combat childhood cancer. On September 14, 2011, the Floyd Little Athletic Center – said to be the largest scholastic athletic facility in New England – was dedicated in his honor. Floyd was recognized in January 2012 with the Walter Camp Football Foundation Distinguished American Award and in 2014 received the Doak Walker Legends Award.
Floyd received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Syracuse University in 2016 and an Honorary Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Denver in 2018. He served on numerous boards of directors and delivered empowering motivational and educational speeches around the world. In collaboration with his good friend and loyal supporter, Tom Mackie, Floyd is the co-author of two books, “Tales From The Bronco’s Sidelines” and “Promises to Keep”. Floyd’s influence positively impacted the lives of his family, friends and people from around the world. It was said that “Floyd never met a stranger” because he was so personable and friendly with everyone he met.
Even at a young age, Floyd lived his life with a strong faith in God and a powerful personal philosophy, which included being honest, loyal, true to your word and the best person you could be. He believed in helping others, especially children, and giving back to the communities in which he lived. He was a friend to all – family, friends, and even strangers – uplifting and inspiring them whenever and wherever he could. Floyd will always be remembered for his integrity, generosity, and commitment to what is good and true in all of us. He chose to live the life of the “uncommon man.”
In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Floyd Little Scholarship Fund, New Haven Grid Iron Club, PO Box 32, New Haven, CT 06501-0032 to advance the education and athletic career of New Haven students is appreciated.