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Family and friends honor Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham at memorial service

Peabody Stadium
Blake DeVine/KEYT
A memorial for Sam 'Bam' Cunningham took place on Saturday at Peabody Stadium.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. —  A celebration of the life and legacy of former Santa Barbara High School sports star Sam 'Bam' Cunningham took place on Saturday at Peabody Stadium.

Those in attendance wore jerseys or gear from Cunningham’s three former teams Santa Barbara High, USC and New England Patriots.

Family members and close friends sat on the newly named Cunningham track to express their final words on the fantastic football player.

Sam passed away on September 7, 2021 at the age of 71.

In the late 1960s, Cunningham was a football and track standout for the Dons.

He scored 39 total touchdowns for SBHS.

Cunningham then went on to play at USC and his big game against an all-white Alabama team in 1970 was widely credited with helping integrate southern college football programs.

Former SC teammate Lynn Swann fondly remembered his time playing with Cunningham.

"The legacy we should remember is Sam’s focus on being the best football player that he could be at that time and how it was the catalyst for him doing something so much better than football,” Swann said.

He also scored four touchdowns in the 1973 Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

Cunningham was then drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft. 

He spent nine seasons with the Pats, eventually becoming their all-time leading rusher.

Cunningham was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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