Sam Cunningham Biography – Sam Cunningham Wiki
Sam “Bam” Cunningham (born Samuel Lewis Cunningham Jr) was an American professional football player. He played 9 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) for the New England Patriots. He played college football at USC, where he was named an All-American and received MVP honors in the 1973 Rose Bowl.
Cunningham is widely recognized for helping speed up the process of integration in football programs across the South. Cunningham ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns as USC beat an all-white Alabama team to open the 1970 season. That performance, coupled with those of his Black teammates, was pivotal in Alabama coach Bear Bryant’s decision to recruit Black players.
In 1971, Alabama had Black players on scholarship for the first time and played for the national title. However, the Crimson Tide were routed 38-6 by Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. But the decade became a standout era for Bryant and the Crimson Tide as they went on to win three national championships.
Cunningham, a 3-year (1970-72) letterman at USC, earned All-American first team honors in 1972 while captaining the Trojans to the national championship. He was USC’s Back of the Year that season. He rushed for 1,579 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career (including 13 TDs in 1972) and added 34 receptions for 293 yards and 2 scores.
Cunningham’s 4 short goal line scoring dives against Ohio State in the 1973 Rose Bowl earned him game MVP honors and he was later inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1992. He played in the 1973 Hula Bowl, College All-Star Game and Coaches All-America Game. He was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Drafted 11th overall in the 1973 NFL Draft’s first round by New England, he played 9 seasons for the Patriots (1973-79, 19881-82) and became the franchise’s all-time leading rusher (5,453 yards) while also catching 210 passes for 1,905 yards. He scored 49 touchdowns with New England, with 43 on the ground. He was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team in 1978. He was inducted into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame in 2010. He is a member of the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team and the 1970s All-Decade Team.
After his playing career, Cunningham worked as a landscape contractor in Southern California. He was born and raised in Santa Barbara.
Sam Cunningham Age
Samuel Lewis Cunningham Jr was born on August 15, 1950, in Santa Barbara, California. He died on September 7, 2021, in Inglewood, California. He was 71.
Sam Cunningham Wife
Sam Cunningham was married to Cine Cunningham.
Sam Cunningham Children
Sam Cunningham and his wife, Cine, had a daughter, Samahndi Cunningham, a USC graduate.
Sam Cunningham Family
Sam Cunningham is survived by his wife, Cine, daughter Samahndi, brothers Bruce, Anthony and Randall, who starred as a quarterback in the NFL for 16 years, niece Vashti Cunningham, a world champion high jumper and nephew Randall II.
Sam Cunningham Brother
Sam Cunningham’s brother, Randall Cunningham, played quarterback at UNLV (he is a 2016 College Football Hall of Fame inductee) and then for 16 years in the NFL with the Eagles, Vikings, Cowboys and Ravens. His nephew Randall II was a 2-time NCAA champion high jumper at USC and his niece Vashti is a world indoor champion high jumper who competed in the 2020 Olympics.
Sam Cunningham Death
Former USC and New England Patriots fullback Sam “Bam” Cunningham died at the age of 71 on September 7, 2021, at his home in Inglewood, California, according to USC. USC wrote on Twitter: “#FightOnForever, Sam “Bam” Cunningham. The All-American fullback, Rose Bowl MVP and College Football Hall of Famer, whose performance in USC’s 1970 win at Alabama has often been credited with helping integrate Southern football, died on Tuesday in Inglewood. He was 71.”
Clay Helton, USC Head Coach, tweeted: “Extremely saddened by the loss of a college football legend. As good a man as he was a player. Thank you Sam for being the example of what a Trojan should be. You will be missed but never forgotten.”
Lynn Swann, a teammate of Cunningham’s at USC, said: “The entire SEC, especially Alabama, owes Sam Cunningham a tremendous debt of thanks and appreciation for his play that opened the door to Black athletes in 1970.
“There are a lot of athletes who have done their share and more to end discrimination in so many ways. But Sam opened a huge door in the South and in that conference, which did more for minorities and young Black men to have the opportunity to play in the SEC and get an education.”
“We are deeply saddened to learn of yet another loss to the Patriots family this week and our hearts ache for Sam Cunningham’s family and all who are mourning his passing today,” Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement. “Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham was one of my favorite players throughout the ’70s and my sons all loved him.”
“After I bought the team in 1994, it was my honor to welcome him back to the team on multiple occasions, recognizing him as a 50th anniversary team member and again for his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
“As much as I admired him as a player, my affection for him only grew after spending time with him and learning more about him as a person. He made a tremendous impact, both on and off the field, and was beloved by his teammates. As a Patriots Hall of Famer, Sam’s legacy and contributions will be preserved and celebrated forever, but today his loss is felt with heavy hearts.”
Sam Cunningham Cause of Death – Sam Bam Cunningham Alabamasam Cunningham Cause of Death
Sam Cunningham’s cause of death was not revealed.
Sam Cunningham Net Worth
Sam Cunningham’s net worth is estimated to be $5 million.