He was a Tampa Treasure and one of Sumter’s Favorite Sons. And if you had the fortune to know him, he was a friend forever.
Sheriff David Gee, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, unveiled a bronze relief and granite wall honoring Freddie Solomon, a 21-year employee of the Sheriff's Office, and a community icon for his work with youth and charitible causes.
Freddie, who is battling cancer, was joined by hundreds of friends and colleagues as the tribute was displayed for the first time. The Sheriff's Office Annex was also renamed the Freddie Solomon Annex.
A lot of people knew Freddie as simply Freddie, a jovial yet formal first name that befitted his personality: happy but determined; competitive but humble. Others knew Freddie as “Coach.’’ It would come to be his adopted surname. It was even monogrammed on his polo shirts.
But coach was more than a moniker. It was who he was and wanted to be. He was Coach with a capital "C'' to countless children through the years, teaching them skills on the field and in life. It was what made him the happiest - to see a child’s smile at achieving something that once seemed too far to grab. Maybe it was catching that long pass. Maybe it was learning to play by the rules. Maybe it was the glow of pride in being part of a team.
Freddie, a star football player at the University of Tampa who went on to be all-pro in the NFL for two teams and two Super Bowl champions, said he was humbled and grateful for the tribute.
Video of Ceremony: