Legendary Jefferson Athlete Larry Lawrence Dies

By Nick Pugliese and John Campbell, Reporters

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Larry Lawrence, one of the greatest athletes in Jefferson High School history, died Tuesday in Galveston, Texas.

According to his daughter, Danielle Gallo, Lawrence, 63, died of edema (swelling of the brain).

She said a memorial service will be held in Cedar Rapids, but a date has not been set.

Lawrence, who was a member of The Gazette’s Top 40 team of the greatest athletes from the area, was the starting quarterback for Iowa in 1968-69 before transferring to Miami. He played with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League for three seasons as well as with the Oakland Raiders and expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers before ending his professional career with Montreal of the CFL in 1978.

His high school highlights included being an All-State quarterback on Jefferson’s mythical state championship team in 1965 and a starting forward on the J-Hawks’ state basketball title team in 1967.

In an interview with The Gazette in 2007 upon his selection to the Top 40 team, Lawrence said “It was a great time for us. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it,” referring to his Jefferson days.

“When I was a junior (1965-66), we had a lot of talent and we ended up having four guys go to Iowa (for football)” he told The Gazette.

He played football at Jefferson for his father, Ted, but one of his shining moments came on the basketball court when he made two free throws in overtime to defeat Ames, 72-71, in the state championship game.

During his sophomore season at Iowa, Lawrence replaced Ed Podolak at quarterback in 1968 and started the next two seasons while Podolak moved to running back. In 1968, he passed for 1,307 yards and seven touchdowns and the following season he threw for 1,680 yards and 10 TDs. In 1969, he amassed 2,086 yards of total offense.

After finishing his college career with the Hurricanes, Lawrence signed with the Raiders as a free agent, playing two years and starting one game. He missed most of the 1975 season with an injury. The first-year Bucs traded for him in 1976. He eventually was released after the Bucs picked up Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Terry Hanratty.

Lawrence, who had a heart transplant nine years ago, had been splitting time in recent years between Brooklyn, Iowa and Mercedes, Texas. His family said he was a big supporter of organ donations.

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