Wiley Martin was an Ole Miss Rebel. For many who entered his path, he might be the most caring Ole Miss Rebel ever to come on campus.
Stricken with Cerebral Palsy since birth, Martin recently passed away after a battle with prostate cancer. A former manager in the 1980’s for Rebel football and basketball teams, Martin left an indelible mark on all he came in contact with.
“Wiley was a loving, caring, courageous and tough-minded young man who should serve as an inspiration to everyone,” former Ole Miss head basketball coach Bob Weltlich remembered. “The world is a better place for his having walked its halls.”
Prior to his passing, Martin had one last wish.
Martin wanted to tour the two-year old home of the Ole Miss hoops team, The Pavilion. The only place Martin had seen the Rebels play basketball on campus is the now-replaced Tad Smith Coliseum. The problem was Hattiesburg was a four hour car ride away and his medical requirements made the trip unfeasible.
That’s when the Ole Miss M-Club, the group consisting of former Ole Miss Athletes, stepped up to the plate. Along with additional donors, Angel Flight was hired to airlift the former Rebel to Oxford for his wish.
The wish was granted.
When he arrived, a crowd gathered to greet him. Former Southern Miss men’s basketball coach and former Rebel James Green was there. Warner Alford, a former Athletic Director, along with many other former players and university personnel stopped by to see Martin.
Former Ole Miss wide receiver Jamie Holder, who spearheaded the event, remembers Martin’s time at Ole Miss well.
“Wiley taught us how blessed we have been to be able to put on the uniform as an Ole Miss Rebel,” Holder said.
During the tour, former Ole Miss head coach Billy Brewer presented Martin with a plaque to note the new scholarship created in his honor. Now Ole Miss fans and friends can donate to the Wiley Martin Scholarship.
It was former Ole Miss quarterback John Darnell who put it best, adding, “that guy is amazing.”
While Martin is gone, many are thankful his wish was granted. For Eric Tillman, former Executive Director of the Senior Bowl and current General Manager of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, Martin was the epitome of a role model.
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