LIVE OAK, Fla. — Jeannette Chambers was joyed as she watched her husband being honored.
“After something so devastating, it was a thrill to see the smile come across his face,” Jeannette said. “So special.”
Brent Chambers, who has been battling ALS since 2017, was inducted into the Suwannee High Hall of Fame on Dec. 21 during an SHS basketball game.
A 1980 Suwannee graduate, Chambers played three years of varsity football, three and a half years of varsity basketball and also spent time as a coach for the Bulldogs. He led Suwannee to a district basketball championship as a player and helped coach the SHS girls basketball team to a district title.
“I am honored and yet humbled by this recognition,” wrote Brent, who has trouble speaking now, for his hall of fame ceremony. “In both sports I had some awesome teammates whose friendships have lasted through the years. I am truly a blessed man. God has been so good to me over the years and even now as I battle ALS, I feel his love and blessings through his son and my very best friend, Jesus.
“Nothing separates us from the love of God, not illness, nor tragedy or even death itself.”
Beyond sports, Chambers is a pillar in the community — a father, husband and friend to many.
He worked for 26 years at the Mayo Correctional Facility, 10 years as a captain, retiring in 2015.
One of Chambers’ good friends is Randy Lamb, also a 1980 SHS grad. They grew up together and remain close.
“We’re as close as brothers,” said Lamb. “We were teammates. I remember Brent was one of the biggest guys on football and basketball. An unbelievable spirit, he had no quit. When we were running, everyone else was passing out except him.”
While Lamb and Chambers went their separate ways after high school, they reconnected recently.
“We hooked back up a few years ago,” Lamb said. “I saw he had lost around 50 pounds and he told me he had begun the journey of ALS.
“But there is no sadness, no depression. His faith has kept him going.”
Memories at SHS
Chambers made plenty of good memories at SHS with his excellence on the basketball court as both a player and leader.
“One of my career highlights was a dunk in this gym against Madison, who were called the Cougars in those days,” wrote Chambers. “The highlight of my coaching came in 2010, assisting coach Jimmie Jackson as we won a district championship and the schools first win in the state playoffs, making it to the sweet sixteen for the girl’s team. The final two years I served as the head coach and was blessed to have my son Jay, who also played for SHS, serve as my assistant coach.”
Chambers was also able to coach his daughter Hope.
“I was fortunate enough to have my dad as my coach throughout my four years on the basketball team from 2008-2011,” said Hope. “I believe that all the girls on the team enjoyed having dad as their coach. He made things fun by doing ridiculous drills, inspired us with prep game speeches, and taught us more than just the game of basketball, but how to be an example on how to live your life to others.”
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease. According to the ALS Association, approximately 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with ALS each year.