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NFL pioneer Wally Triplett dies at 92

Wally Triplett, one of the first black athletes drafted by an NFL team, died Thursday morning, the Detroit Free Press reported. He was 92. 

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Triplett, who played collegiately at Penn State, was drafted out of Penn State University by the Detroit Lions in the 19th round of the 1949 NFL draft. There were three black players drafted that year, but Triplett was the first to play in a regular-season game, according to an obituary that appeared in the Lawrence Journal World

Triplett, a 5-foot-11, 173-pounder who was a running back and kick returner, played two years with the Lions and two with the Chicago Cardinals. He played in 24 games, starting nine with the Lions, and rushed for 321 yards in 70 carries. He scored one touchdown.

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Triplett a native of La Mott, Pennsylvania, also made 17 catches for 175 yards.

“As the first African-American to be drafted and to play in the National Football League, Wally is one of the true trailblazers in American sports history," the Lions said in a news release. "He resides among the great men who helped reshape the game as they faced the challenges of segregation and discrimination.

“His contributions date back to his days at Penn State as the Nittany Lions’ first African-American starter and varsity letter-winner, highlighted by his appearance in the first integrated Cotton Bowl. Wally’s legacy also reaches beyond breaking color barriers, having served in the United States Army during the Korean War.

“We fondly reflect on his great achievements and send our heartfelt condolences to the Triplett family.”

Triplett had 34 career punt returns for 401 yards and a touchdown, and returned 18 kickoffs for 664 yards and a touchdown.

On Oct. 29, 1950, Triplett set a then-NFL record with 294 yards on four kick returns, including a 97-yard touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams, the Free Press reported. The record stood for 44 years and is now the third-highest mark in league history.

Triplett was drafted into the Army after the 1950 season and served two years before finishing his career with the Cardinals.

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell dies at 85

Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, who was part of the Apollo 14 space crew that flew to the moon in 1971, died late Thursday in West Palm Beach, according to his family.

Mitchell, 85, lived in suburban Lake Worth and died at a local hospice at about 10 p.m. Thursday, his daughter, former West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell told The Palm Beach Post.

Mitchell’s ex-wife, Anita Mitchell, is a former Republican Party chairman for Palm Beach County and is currently former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s Palm Beach County campaign chairman.

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Mitchell was the sixth man to walk on the moon. He was part of a three-man crew, with Alan Shepard Jr. and Stuart Roosa, who took part in the Apollo 14 space mission. It was the eighth manned mission in the United States Apollo program and they became the third ever to land on the moon. Mitchell was the lunar module pilot on the mission.

Apollo 14 launched just over 45 years ago, on Jan. 31, 1971. The nine-day mission ended Feb. 9 when the crew landed in the South Pacific Ocean.

Unlike other astronauts who tend to live reclusive lives, Mitchell remained in the public eye.

In 2011, he turned over the camera he took to the moon to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The U.S. government filed a lawsuit against him in that same year, saying he stole the camera. Mitchell denied the allegations and said if it wasn’t for him, the camera would have never made it back to Earth.

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Mitchell was born in Hereford, Texas, on Sept. 17, 1930 but considered his hometown Artesia, N.M., near Roswell. Mitchell was open about his views on the paranormal and psychic, and he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which sponsors research into the nature of consciousness, or studying the unexplained. In his 1996 memoir, “The Way of the Explorer,” he described the experience on his return to Earth as life-changing.

“What I experienced during that three-day trip home was nothing short of an overwhelming sense of universal connectedness. I actually felt what has been described as an ecstasy of unity,” he said.

Woman turns up alive 13 days after her funeral

Thirteen days after saying their final farewells to a Sharolyn Jackson, a Philadelphia family got a pleasant surprise when they found Jackson alive and well.

The fifty-year-old was pronounced dead after a body matching her description was found on a street corner on July 20. (Via Daily Mirror)

The body was identified as Jackson by her son and a friend, and was buried under Jackson’s name on August 3. (Via Legacy)

But just 13 days after her funeral, Jackson’s son Travis discovered his mother alive and well at a psychiatric institution in central Philadelphia. (Via New York Daily News)

Jackson’s father, Dave Minnie, told KYW about the moment he learned his daughter was alive after all.

“You know how you feel that you’re just about to get over it? That she’s dead, and then Travis comes here with the news that she’s alive.”

Jackson’s family was obviously overjoyed to have her back, but the question remains: who is buried in Jackson’s grave? The Daily Mail says authorities are trying to find that out.

A writer for The Stir comments the mystery woman the Jacksons laid to rest must put a bit of a damper on the family’s reunion.

“Sure, your mom is OK, but who knows who this other woman has left behind ... and they haven’t even had the comfort of being able to say goodbye to their loved one. Talk about a mixed blessing!”

 Authorities are now seeking a court order to exhume the body. The unknown woman died of natural causes on July 20.

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